A poster displayed at Leighton Buzzard railway station, which claimed the RMT five-day strike action had been called off, was put up in error.
Luckless travellers arriving at the station this morning (Tuesday) were greeted with the ‘news’ that the August 8-12 strike over the role of conductors had been suspended - but it was wishful thinking.
The poster claimed Southern “now planned to run a near normal level of service” but added that a revised timetable was still in operation on many of the operator’s routes.
But that was in contradiction to a Southern twitter message earlier today which stated: “Queuing systems may be in place at some stations this morning due to RMT Strike. Please plan ahead & take extra care whilst at stations.”
Commuter Andrew Bowen, who took a photo of the poster, tweeted to the firm: “According to this sign at Leighton Buzzard this morning there is no strike???”
He told the LBO: “This week no worse than the past 4 weeks, unfortunately I can’t remember what a normal journey was. Very poor.”
Fellow traveller Sandra Smith tweeted to the RMT union: “Why is there a poster at Leighton buzzard stn saying 5 day strike cancelled???”
She told the LBO a round trip which had been taking her three hours a day, was now taking 4.5 hours. She said: “It impacts my family life as rarely see my 5 year old week nights. I moved to LB because of the direct train to Shepherds Bush. I’m exhausted travelling.”
A spokesman for Southern Railways told the LBO: “The poster on display at Leighton Buzzard was a mistake. As soon as it was noticed we asked staff at the station to take it down, and it was.”
As day two of the strike progresses, Southern say its services continue to run well with nine out of ten trains reaching their destinations on time so far today.
Southern’s Passenger Services Director, Alex Foulds said: “While the RMT union is hell bent on disrupting our passengers’ lives with this needless strike, we continue to provide the best possible service we can in the circumstances. We urge them to call off this wretched strike and sit down and talk with us to end this dispute.”
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “This action has been forced on us by the arrogance and inaction of Govia Thameslink and the government who have made it clear that they have no interest in resolving this dispute or in tackling the daily chaos on Southern.
”Our fight is with the company and the government who have dragged this franchise into total meltdown. We share the anger and frustration of passengers and we cannot sit back while jobs and safety are compromised on these dangerously overcrowded trains.”
Southern Trains announced last month it had suspended its weekday services between Milton Keynes Central and Clapham Junction. The move came as the firm axed hundreds of services as part of an amended timetable prompted by months of disruption.
Parent firm Govia Thameslink said the “more reliable” timetable, with 341 fewer daily services, would operate on week days “for the foreseeable future”.
It prompted Leighton’s MP Andrew Selous to write to Rail Minister Robert Goodwill to express his anger at the cutting of the Southern service from Leighton Buzzard to Croydon through West London. He has also raised the issue in Parliament.
The South West Beds MP said: “I will do everything I can to get it restored as soon as possible. I know how important good railway services are for everyone in our area.”