A 48-hour strike over pay by the members of the Rail Maritime and Transport (RMT) union began last night at 3:40am. Heathrow Express has announced trains will be running every 30 minutes between 8am and 8pm today and Saturday, instead of their normal frequency of every 15 minutes.
The RMT has raised safety concerns with Heathrow Express' efforts to continue service by assigning managers to drive trains and take on other 'safety critical roles'. The union believes the stand-ins have 'wholly inadequate training'.
RMT General Secretary Bob Crow states:
“Instead of resorting to increasingly desperate moves to keep a few trains running for the benefit of the media it would make far more sense for Heathrow Express to sit down with us and work out a pay deal that fully rewards our members for their hard work which has generated company profits of over £6 million on a turnover of £60 million.”
There is also bad news for travellers who would not have shelled out £18 for a one-way journey regardless of the strike: Heathrow Connect services are down for the strike’s duration.
One big concern is the affect the strike will have on fans and officials attending the UEFA Champions League Final on Saturday evening.
A second, shorter strike of 24 hours is scheduled for 24 June.
By Rose Scobie. Image by Everita in the Londonist Flickr pool.