UK rail firm cuts 180 jobs

Thursday, February 5, 2009

British rail company South West Trains (SWT) is to cut 180 jobs.

The franchisee for lines out of London's Waterloo station has already announced 480 job cuts. The redundancies affect front line staff in ticket offices and at stations and further managers and administrators.

Bus firm Stagecoach Group, LSESGC which runs South West Trains and East Midlands Trains, says that cuts are required because predicted passenger growth will now not happen. SWT's subsidy from the government is falling from £61 million in 2008 to £23 million this year. The subsidy becomes a premium payment next year, with over £36 million to be paid by SWT in 2010.

South West Trains Express Sprinter 158789 at Bristol Temple Meads railway station
Image: Thryduulf.

Train crew and maintenance staff will not face redundancy and the number of services, which are generally mandated by the Department for Transport, will not be reduced. The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union condemned the job cuts. Bob Crow, the union's general secretary, said “SWT’s attacks on its staff and passengers are eating into the very fabric of the railway they are supposed to be running, and they must be stopped". He said that the RMT wanted to ensure there were no compulsory redundancies but that "the company seems to be heading towards a ballot for strike action". Crow also restated the union's longstanding demand for the railways to be renationalised, saying "South West Trains has shown itself to be incapable of running a railway for the benefit of its passengers and the economy, and it is time for the franchise [to come] back into the public sector".

SWT's statement on the cuts said "The company will continue to review its operation and take any further steps required to ensure it has a secure business for the long-term. Our priority will remain maintaining services to our customers, protecting jobs for the majority of our people and providing a strong foundation for growth when the economy improves."