Rail strike by First Great Western: Talks continue to avert bank holiday chaos for those travelling to West Country, Wales and the Cotswolds

 
Lynsey Barber
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New trains have caused rail workers to strike (Source: Getty)

It's not just the London Underground which is hitting the buffers due to strike action.

First Great Western rail staff are scheduled to hold two strikes - one of them taking place over the bank holiday weekend - causing misery for travellers looking to escape the city for a sunny spot in the West Country, Wales and the Cotswolds.

The rail company and RMT are involved in fresh talks, which are continuing today, as they seek to avert the action which is the result of a dispute over the introduction of new trains.

Strikes by union members are due to begin on Saturday (22 August) for 24.hours, followed by a second 72-hour strike beginning on 29 August, involving guards and attendants, while maintenance staff will work to rule.

Read more: "Constructive" Tube strike talks resume as clock ticks

If talks fail, the action will be the second strike in as many months after a 48-hour strike took place in July.

The dispute centres around the introduction of new Hitachi intercity trains, which will transfer door operations from the guard to the driver. RMT says this is “a clear dilution of the important role of the guard and the crucial role of safety critical platform staff for safe incoming and departure of trains at stations, and is contrary to RMT policy.”

However, First Great Western insist the new trains, which will be faster and more frequent, will mean there are more managers on board and not less.

If the talks fail, many services to cities such as Bristol and Plymouth will be reduced to just one every hour or two in each direction while Thames Valley services from London to Gatwick, Reading, Maidenhead and Oxford will also be severely disrupted.

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