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Industrial Action by RMT union - Frequently Asked Questions

Press release -

Industrial Action by RMT union - Frequently Asked Questions

Industrial Action - Frequently Asked Questions

Why does WMT want driver only operated ( DOO) trains?

We don't. West Midlands Trains has never sought to introduce Driver Only Operation.

Why does WMT want to get rid of guards / conductors?

We don't. We are committed to keeping a conductor on every passenger train.

What is this industrial action / strke all about?

We have new trains arriving next year as part of a £700 million investment to add 25% more carriages to our network. These trains are built differently to the existing older ones. So, we have been discussing with the RMT how to get the best out of the new trains, to make it safer and easier for people to get on and off.

The RMT says this is about the safe despatch of trains, what do you say?

Following discussions with the RMT we proposed a way of working that met all their demands unconditionally. This is a way of working that is used on other operators’ trains and has been around for almost two decades. It leaves conductors in control of the despatch procedure when the train starts away from stations.

Why can’t you run a service to X / on line X / the whole of the X line on strike days?

Our contingency timetable is based on serving as many passengers as we can with the traction and route knowledge we have available among our managers with guard competency.

Why aren’t you stopping at Bordesley on strike days?

As trains only stop at Bordesley occasionally, it is not possible to keep contingency managers trained to operate trains at this station.

Are you running a safe service on strike days?

Yes, all our trains are being staffed by experienced managers with conductor / guard competence.

Will services be back to normal on Sundays following industrial action?

The special timetable on Saturdays may result in some carriages being in the wrong place for start of Sunday services. This could result in some trains being longer or shorter than usual on the day.

Does delay repay apply on strike days?

Yes. Passengers who choose not to travel on a strike day may also use their ticket on Friday, Sunday or  Monday or apply for a full refund.

What percentage of your normal service are you running?

This will vary from route to route. Some lines will run as normal while others will have no WMR or LNR trains at all.

How many people would you normally carry on a Saturday?

170,000 on an average Saturday but this increases in the run up to Christmas.

Why is your reduced strike day timetable so unreliable?

We have run hundreds of trains on strike days so far, with the conductor role cover by specially trained managers. However, our Euston and Northampton services in particular have been affected by on-the-day cancellations, caused by drivers refusing to cross the senior conductor picket lines. We will continue to run as many trains as we can, but have also ordered over 100 buses/coaches to get you to your destination as quickly as we can if things go wrong.

Why are you advertising a full timetable up until the last minute?

As negotiations with the Trade Union are ongoing, we only know a few days in advance whether the strike will go ahead. Agreeing and uploading the reduced service into the various systems is a very time-consuming activity for both West Midlands Trains and Network Rail, and has an impact on other important work around future improvements. However, it is even more disruptive uploading a full timetable if strikes are cancelled at short notice, which is why we have adopted the current approach, including messaging on journey planners highlighting the possibility of revisions.

Why are the drivers on strike?

Drivers are not on strike. There has been no ballot for industrial action amongst drivers and they are not on strike. However, a number of drivers at certain locations have refused to cross the senior conductors’ picket lines in recent weeks.

Why aren’t other train companies accepting WMR/LNR tickets instead?

We have spoken with several different train companies to enter into commercial agreements regarding ticket acceptance, and East Midlands Railway, Merseyrail, Transport for Wales and Thameslink have agreed to carry our passengers. However, other operators - such as Chiltern Railways and Virgin Trains - are already extremely busy, and have told us they are unable to accommodate LNR/WMR ticket holders.

Should I avoid travelling on strike days?

There will be a significantly reduced timetable in operation, so you should consider your journey carefully, especially if you are travelling later in the day when options are limited. If you need to travel on a strike day, we will do our best to run the advertised reduced service (see and websites). However, we have also hired over 100 buses and arranged for tickets to be accepted on hundreds more, to help you complete your journey if things go wrong on the day. If you want to travel on another day instead, you can use your ticket on the Friday before, or the Sunday/Monday after. We’re also happy to offer 100% refunds (with no admin fee) if you would rather not travel at all.

Does Delay Repay apply on strike days?

Yes, if you are delayed by 15 minutes or more compared with the advertised timetable on the day, you are entitled to compensation. Alternatively you can apply for a refund if you choose not to travel – or




About West Midlands Trains

For further information on this release, call our press office on 03300 955150 or email

West Midlands Trains operates both West Midlands Railway and London Northwestern Railway services.

  • London Northwestern Railway services operate between Liverpool and Birmingham, and on the West Coast mainline to and from London Euston.
  • West Midlands Railway services operate to destinations across the West Midlands via Birmingham New Street.

For more information on these services visit or

The West Midlands Trains franchise started on 10 December 2017 and will run until 2025/26.

West Midlands Trains operates 1,300 services a day, manages 150 stations and provides over 70 million passenger journeys a year. Over the course of the franchise, West Midlands Trains will be investing £1 billion into the rail network to deliver new trains, improved routes and station upgrades. This will include 400 new train carriages across the network and space for an extra 85,000 passengers into Birmingham and London at peak times.

The franchise is a joint venture between Abellio (70.1% share) and East Japan Railway Company / Mitsui & Co., Ltd (29.9% share in a 50:50 split). Abellio is the international passenger transport subsidiary of the Dutch national railway company, Nederlandse Spoorwegen. In the UK, Abelllio operates ScotRail and Greater Anglia train services, Merseyrail services in a joint venture with Serco and buses through Abellio London. For more information visit

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Andrew McGill

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