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Train 'transformation' plan could spark a strike
LANS to “transform” train services through Bridgwater could spark a strike, a union claims.
The RMT rail union reckons guards, catering and maintenance jobs could be lost when a new fleet of trains is introduced.
Operator First Great Western says the company might not even be running trains in the region when the fleet goes live and there is no reason for job losses.
The RMT fears the Hitachi trains, part of the Government’s Intercity Express Programme, could be ‘driver-only’ operated, with buffet cars removed to allow more seats and maintenance no longer in-house.
Mick Cash, RMT acting general secretary, said: “RMT is demanding answers and assurances from both the Government and FGW.
“If those assurances aren’t forthcoming we’ll move into dispute and begin preparations for ballots.”A FGW spokesman said the new trains will be introduced in summer 2017 and there is no guarantee the company will still be running trains in the region as its current franchise expires next summer.
He added: “We’ve been involved in the design of the intercity express trains.
“There’s nothing that would stop train managers or other staff from being retained or catering being offered on board by whoever has the privilege of running the franchise.”
Rail Minister Stephen Hammond said the programme would “transform services” and create thousands of jobs He added: “The safety and comfort of both passengers and staff has been a top priority in the design of these trains and groups including train operators, passengers and safety experts have been closely involved in the process.
“Fixed kitchens as well as trolley facilities are included in the base design of the train and there is always the scope to introduce buffet facilities if the new franchisee wants to offer this facility.”