…but you better not kill the groove.”
Yep, it was chaos on the railway platforms in both Reading and Bristol Parkway today and yesterday. I had, crazily, agreed to commute to and from Devon to cover a clinic in Reading both today and yesterday and the traffic chaos was evident each time. Although the RMT strike had yet to begin on First Great Western (FGW) trains until 6:30pm yesterday my 3:30pm train was standing room only for virtually the entire 2.5 hour journey.
This morning I headed for Reading via Bristol Parkway, this now being the only route available unless I wished to board a 6:02am train, mmmmmmmm perhaps not, and the platforms there were rammed. Literally full to bursting. I eventually got a seat next to a city worker who spent at least half an hour condemning the right to strike. To be perfectly honest we were all having a bit of a moan at the added miles and hours to our travel but this chap and I were really not in agreement. I completely support the right to strike if workers feel they are not being treated fairly, and it is one of the many reasons I love living in Britain. Free speech. Democracy. I am guessing he wished he had not started that particular conversation with me. After ten minutes we spent the rest of the journey glaring sideways at each other over the tops of our newspapers, with the occasional elbow shove off the armrest and outraged sniff.
My way home from Reading tonight is a different story entirely. Lots of commuters have clearly decided to heed the travel warnings and stay at home leaving their pre-reserved seats both empty and inviting. I have a seat AND a table, hence here I am waffling on to you.
I had a bit of time to kill before catching my train this evening so I had a little chat with the strikers. They were both effusive and extremely likeable, and on the whole quite buoyed up by the positive reaction to today’s strike action from the majority of commuters.
This is why they are there:
At the end of May RMT entered into a dispute with First Great Western over the introduction of their Super Express Trains. They were asking for assurances on the following:
- To keep a safety competent guard on every train.
- To keep safety critical station despatch staff.
- To keep buffet car facilities on every train.
- To ensure that maintenance of new rolling stock remains in-house.
- To prevent job losses.
These assurances have not been received from FGW at the time of writing yet East Coast, who are introducing THE SAME trains have provided theses assurances to RMT.
I will always support the right to strike.
I think these strikers raise very valid points.
It may sound better from the strikers themselves. I must make it clear that I assured them I am NOT a member of the press but a sole blogger interested in their cause.
Over to them.
I could not actually upload this video whilst on the train due to the extremely poor Wifi available so, in for a penny and all that, I personally would also like to implore FGW to do something about the appalling state many of their trains that travel between Bristol and the South West are in. When travelling for work I will choose to get up an hour earlier sometimes to catch a Cross Country service solely due to the appalling disrepair and filth on many of the smaller FGW services.
“Hey…DJ, better turn these rails around right now!”