South Western Railway (SWR) workers are set to strike for 27-days from 2 December over the Christmas period as no resolution was found over the long running dispute of guards on trains.
Economists have warned on Tuesday that the 27-day rail strike, that will affect commuters and Christmas shoppers could cost businesses around £400m.
Simon French the chief economist at City brokers Panmure Gordon, has estimated that the economic impact could cost as much as £25m per working day.
With the strike period covering 16 working days up to Christmas Eve, French estimate the total could cost around £400m over the 27-day strike period.
SWR has more than 4m passengers each week travelling across London, which could affect London’s West End nightlife, from bars, to restaurants, cinema’s, theatres and Christmas shoppers.
Mike Kill, chief executive of the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) said, “This limited timetable over 27-days comes as a shock. I have been inundated with calls from members with concerns, particularly in the West End.
“It’s a tough enough trading environment as it is with Brexit and consumers holding on to their pennies, so businesses look to the festive period to make up the trade.
“For the railway to shut down at 10.30pm is archaic.”
Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union’s general secretary Mick Cash said, “The disruption forecast by SWR would be wholly avoidable if it agreed to further talks with the union around the crucial issue of maintaining passenger safety and accessibility at the platform train interface during the despatch process.”
A SWR spokesman said last week, “We’re very disappointed. Despite promising to keep guards on all our trains and promising that they will have a safety-critical role, the talks broke down today.
“We believe these promises deliver on what the RMT has been asking for, so these strikes are unnecessary.
“We remain committed to finding a solution that works for our customers and we remain open to talks if the RMT decides to reconsider its position.
“In the meantime, our focus has to be on planning and delivering a train service for our customers.”
The emergency timetable for SWR reveals there will only be 15 rush hour services compared to 42 services, the last departure will now be 10:50pm compared to the last train normally being 01:05am.
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