No trains will run from Crewkerne Station tomorrow (Tuesday July 31st) during the RMT’s third day of strike action. A replacement bus service, arranged by South Western Railway running every two hours between Yeovil Junction and Exeter St Davids, will not call at Crewkerne, Feniton, Whimple, Cranbrook and Pinhoe railway stations but will call at Axminster and Honiton railway stations. Rail passengers in the areas not serviced by the replacement bus service are advised that they can complete their journeys at no extra cost, by showing their rail ticket to bus drivers on the following routes; South West Coaches service 96 between Yeovil Bus Station and Crewkerne via Misterton, North Perrott and Haselbury Plucknett, Buses of Somerset service 30 between Axminster and Taunton Bus Station and Stagecoach services B and 2B from Pinhoe to Exeter city centre.
There will be a reduced train service running every two hours between Salisbury and Yeovil Junction and around three trains every two hours running between London Waterloo and Salisbury. Passengers are also being advised by SWR that if they are travelling between London and Crewkerne, Axminster, Honiton, Feniton, Whimple, Cranbrook, Pinhoe and Exeter on RMT strike days, they will be able to use their rail ticket (including Advance tickets) at no extra charge on Great Western Railway trains to and from London Paddington and Exeter St Davids.
Further strike action is planned by the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) on Saturdays August 4th, 11th, 18th (24 hr strikes) and Friday August 31st from 00:01 until 23:59 hrs on Saturday September 1st (48 hour strike). In a press statement, RMT General Secretary Mick Cash commented on the long-running battle over guards and rail safety and warned that the SWR franchise is “teetering on the brink.” Mr Cash said: “Our members are striking again to put public safety before private profits and it’s about time SWR took note of what is going on elsewhere in the rail industry and the settlements RMT has struck that underpin the guard guarantee and started talking with us seriously around a similar package that puts safety, security and access to services top of the agenda.”
Nick Hurrell, secretary for Salisbury to Exeter Rail User Group (SERUG) which campaigns for improvements to services on the Salisbury to Exeter railway line said: “Yet again the West of England line will suffer the most appalling disruption. For Crewkerne, Feniton, Whimple, Cranbrook and Pinhoe stations, whose passenger numbers total almost 500,000 per year – there will be no service whatsoever on strike days. It seems that SWR have simply thrown in the towel. Where strikes fall on a Saturday, the service will be even worse, with no trains serving Tisbury or Templecombe, in addition to the above stations. SWR are advising passengers not to travel at all on their network on strike days – a big ask during the peak of the summer holiday season. Try telling your children that they can’t go on holiday.”
There are only nine stations across the whole of the South Western Railway network with no Saturday service on strike days, seven of these are on the Salisbury to Exeter section which campaigners say is certain to cause more misery to rail passengers and shows scant re-assurance from SWR that they care about communicating effectively with their passengers who travel from these stations.