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Spalding rail users face fourth Saturday of strikes tomorrow ahead of train operator changing hands




Train passengers using Spalding Rail Station are to face a fourth day of strike action tomorrow (Saturday) in the past five weekends.

Just two days before services on the rail line between Spalding, Peterborough, Sleaford and Lincoln is due to change hands, the RMT (Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers) union has confirmed plans to strike.

It is a repeat of the industrial action which took place on the line over three Saturdays, July 20, 27 and August 3.

East Midlands Trains will be hit by a fourth Saturday of strike action in five weeks, affecting rail passengers planning to use services from Spalding to Peterborough, Sleaford and Lincoln.Photo supplied.
East Midlands Trains will be hit by a fourth Saturday of strike action in five weeks, affecting rail passengers planning to use services from Spalding to Peterborough, Sleaford and Lincoln.Photo supplied.

But unlike previous occasion, when no train services ran in to or out of Spalding, current operator East Midlands Trains (EMT) is laying on rail replacement coaches tomorrow, with an amended timetable in place.

This Saturday marks the final day of services run by East Midlands Trains (EMT), under franchise holder Stagecoach, before it hands over to Netherlands-based, government-owned rail operator Abellio.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: "Senior conductors on East Midlands Trains are taking further strike action tomorrow because of its management’s intransigence (stubbornness) and lack of commitment in dealing with contractual issues, such as compulsory Sunday working, wage discrimination and other matters.

Mick Cash, general secretary of the RMT union.Photo by Mark Bullimore Photography.
Mick Cash, general secretary of the RMT union.Photo by Mark Bullimore Photography.

"I want to congratulate our members for their magnificent show of strength during the three previous weekends of rock solid action in their fight for decent working conditions and respect at work.

"Abellio, as the new franchise holder, needs to do the right thing and put an end to the bad practices of the previous franchise holder by entering into meaningful talks that can bring an end to the dispute.

"Our union remains available for talks but, in the meantime, our EMT members stand firm in their fight for justice."

Stagecoach have been accused by the RMT of "cutting and running before being dumped from the rail network" in a row with the Government over pension obligations for rail workers.

Abellio is due to take over the East Midlands rail franchise on Sunday.Photo supplied.
Abellio is due to take over the East Midlands rail franchise on Sunday.Photo supplied.

Sarah Turner, general manager for East Midlands Trains, said: "We are very sorry that our customers and colleagues have been affected by this RMT dispute.

"It is extremely disappointing that the union is continuing with a further day of action on the last day of our franchise.

"This action is over contracts that have been in place for six years and have not been changed after they were introduced with the RMT's full agreement.

Spalding Rail Station.
Spalding Rail Station.

"Once again, our focus will be on making sure that we provide the best service for customers this Saturday and we thank them for their patience."

Abellio, which is due to rename the EMT franchise East Midlands Railway, won the contract in April 2019 after former Transport Secretary Chris Grayling banned Stagecoach for rebidding for the franchise.

Speaking to Spalding Today, Abellio spokesman Edward Funnell said: "Our plans for the new franchise will include more services and modern, refurbished trains that will offer more seating.

"Also, stations will be improved, free, on-board Wi-Fi will be rolled out and there will be more spending on Community Rail Partnerships."

. For timetable information about rail replacement coaches, go to https://www.eastmidlandstrains.co.uk/information/media/Disruption-Information/East-Midlands-Trains-to-continue-running-train-services-for-customers-during-RMT-industrial-action/#Doncaster-%2f--Lincoln

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