West Midlands strikes set to go ahead

West Midlands strikes set to go ahead

22 November 2019

RMT Press Office:

RMT’s strike action on West Midlands Railways is set to continue tomorrow, threatening to slash services in the region, as the union revealed that Abellio, the company running the franchise has no incentive to reach agreement because it can get government handouts to compensate it for any losses through its failure to run trains.

The union, which is taking action over the company’s refusal to pull back from their threat to bulldoze through Driver Only Operation and their attack on the safety critical role of the guard at the platform/train interface, will be taking strike action tomorrow (Saturday 23 November) as part of a programme of seven strike days running into December. 

Last Saturday’s strike was reported to have halved the number of services West Midlands were able to run from 1200 to just 600. 

Now, as passengers face more disruption, RMT can reveal that the company’s hard line is likely to be based on the knowledge that it can claim compensation at taxpayers’ expense from the government. 

In answer to a Parliamentary question tabled by Ruth Smeeth MP, the Rail Minister Chris Heaton Harris has admitted, 

“The West Midlands Trains Franchise Agreement includes a standard provision whereby the Secretary of State is able to, at his discretion; reimburse net losses arising from Industrial Action”

The union projects that lost passenger revenue as a result of these strikes will equate to around £3.5 million, meaning that Abellio are likely to seek this amount in compensation. 

Abellio have taken £98 million out of the rail network in dividends from their Greater Anglia and Merseyrail franchises in the last 5 years. 

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said,

“With the government set to bankroll West Midlands for revenue loss during periods of industrial action, the company is in effect being paid not to run trains on strike days.” 

“Not only will this cost passengers and taxpayers a whopping three and a half million pounds it means the company have no incentive to reach a resolution, so that passengers face more disruption while simultaneously paying for it.”

“It’s the same old Tories siding with fat cat train bosses at the expense of passengers and against rail workers who are striking as a last resort to defend safety and accessibility”


Editors note


West Midlands Railways indemnification claim - projection


Passenger income[1]


Average daily income[2]


Strike days[3]


Strike day revenue losses[4]


Estimated real loss[5]



[1] Passenger income is taken from the figures reported to the ORR for 2017 and 2018 and contained in https://orr.gov.uk/rail/publications/reports/uk-rail-industry-financial-information . The passenger income figure for 2019 is projected using 2018's figure uprated by inflation of 2.8%.

[2] Average daily income is the annual passenger income figures divided by 365.

[3] Strike days for 2019 are the 7 days called over November and December.

[4] Strike day revenue losses are based on 100% service cancellation.

[5] The estimated real loss is based on the reported impact of 50% strike day service cancellation



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Tagged with: west midlands railways, west midlands trains, abellio, guards, conductors, driver only operation, doo