Fringe Box



Government Response to Rail Strikes ‘Simply Not Good Enough’ Claim Lib Dems

Published on: 20 Jun, 2022
Updated on: 24 Jun, 2022

By Martin Giles

As news came that the last-minute talks between Network Rail and the RMT union failed today, Guildford’s Lib Dems have accused the government is not doing enough to stop planned rail strikes that will impact 100s of commuters and railway passengers from Guildford borough.

See also: No South Western Railway Services from Guildford on Strike Days

The rail strikes come in the wake of major disruption at British airports, and a cost of living crisis that includes a massive hike in fuel and gas prices and an inflation rate approaching 10 per cent.

Zöe Franklin, the prospective Liberal Democrat Parliamentary candidate for Guildford, said: “The planned summer of strikes is going to have a significant effect on thousands of people and have other knock-on effects that the government should be concerned about.

Zoe Franklin

“Our rail system is well used by commuters who will struggle to get to work, holidaymakers who will be unable to travel to their destinations and, something the government and the transport secretary seem happy to ignore, those in education.

“Thousands of school children, college and university students rely on the train network to get to and from their place of learning every day.  Many are sitting exams and will have no other form of transport. This is totally unacceptable. Young people have been through enough over the past two years and they do not need this stress on top of their exams.  

We are also seeing warnings on road signs to expect more traffic during the strikes. This will affect air pollution and, as a result, our environment.  The government needs to stop pointing fingers at others, step up and take action. Their response is simply not good enough.”

Angela Richardson MP

Angela Richardson Guildford’s Conservative MP agreed that the strikes would be damaging. She said: “These strikes are a huge inconvenience for thousands of people in Guildford and our villages and neither I nor the government wanted them to go ahead.

“They are also environmentally and economically damaging, forcing people who have no choice but to travel to work back into their cars and costing businesses millions in goods that cannot be transported by rail.

“As we try to build back the economy, this is last thing everyone needs – the unions are contributing to the supply problems driving up the cost of living and increasing pressures on fuel prices.

But she pointed out the investment the government has made in the railways and disagreed that the government should get directly involved in the negotiations. She continued: “£16 billion of government funding went into keeping the railways running during the pandemic – that’s £160,000 for every railway worker. That was necessary in the uncharted times of COVID-19.

“But the government does not own the railways and should not be substituting itself into the role of employer.

“Times are challenging right now but the way ahead on this issue is for people to stop striking and keep talking until some agreement can be reached.

“We need a healthy railway; the right pay and conditions for everyone who works on it are part of that equation but at the moment nobody is benefiting from this strike action.”

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