East Midlands Railway strikes threatens Leicester commuter’s safe travel as union requests still not fulfilled

By William Delahunty

East Midlands Railway will be hit by another proposed strike date on Saturday, November 26, when services will be unavailable and passengers will have to reach their destination through alternative means.

Stop and go: Leicester station is sometimes full of commuters – or empty on strike days

Many commuters are worried about the reliability of rail and are concerned over the extra strains a striking rail force brings into their lives.

Mat Saward, a Leicestershire commuter, following the previous rail strikes in October commented: “I won’t be planning my future around rail.”

Mr Saward relies on trains to commute for work but also relies on them to return from hiking trips. He understands that after a long hike up Mount Snowdon, it is unsafe to drive a car so instead normally finds comfort in returning to the Midlands through rail transport to avoid a long and strenuous drive. 

Without a reliable rail system, commuters are left without a proper alternative and those like Mr Saward may be left with a decision to opt for a potentially more dangerous choice, to drive a car while tired.

Serious disruption to rail transport has been a constant theme in recent months and without serious intervention to resolve the root cause, more disruption will surely continue.

A rail worker at the Leicester station who took part in the Unite rail strikes in early October said: “It’s not about the money – if it was I wouldn’t have striked, it’s a conditions issue.” 

Young couple Alex and Emelia also use the trains to meet up but they feel alternatives such as taxis are not plausible as rail offers safety and security when travelling later in the evenings.

Rail clearly sets the standard for safe and moderated transport and many commuters clearly feel that if rail cannot be relied upon, the alternatives available to complete their journey are not adequate to provide the safety and reliability that the rail network does.

Moving forward with the scheduled strikes, commuters face a tough compromise on safety, comfort and reliability.

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