Huddersfield transport expert predicts rail strikes would be ‘four days of hell’
Mar 31 2010 by Nick Lavigueur, Huddersfield Daily Examiner
RAIL passengers are being warned of severe disruptions as the threat of national strikes loom.
Talks aimed at averting the industrial action broke down yesterday evening.
Thousands of maintenance workers, signallers and supervisors are now planning to walk out from April 6 to 9.
But last night Network Rail said would take legal action in a bid to block what would be the first national rail strike in 16 years.
Members of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) union are unhappy about plans to slash 1,500 maintenance jobs and claim it would threaten the safety of the network.
Union boss Bob Crowe said Network Rail’s plans to cut 21% of its budget and rip up old agreements would make another Hatfield, Potters Bar or Grayrigg disaster an inevitability.
But rail chiefs said they needed to shift more maintenance to night time and weekend rosters as the railways were too busy to do much work in the day time.
Network Rail chief executive Iain Coucher said they “did not negotiate on safety” as it was at the heart of everything they did.
He also said The Office of Rail Regulation had confirmed it was satisfied with the proposed changes.
Huddersfield University transport expert, Professor Colin Bamford, warned the planned action would be disastrous for commuters and politicians.
He said: “As far as West Yorkshire is concerned it would be absolute misery because there’s been an increase of people travelling to work by train.
“With the congested roads in our region it’s going to mean four days of hell.
“The only saving grace is it’s the Easter holidays so the children will be off school.”
Prof Bamford said the unions were rightly concerned but said he had a “sneaky feeling” a resolution would be agreed.