St Pancras station strike sign

UK: The House of Commons Transport Committee has launched an inquiry into how the government’s proposed Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill would apply in practice to the rail sector.

If passed, the bill would allow the Secretary of State to make regulations setting out the minimum rail service required during industrial action. Unions and workers would have to comply, or face losing protections against being sued or dismissed.

Noting that the bill has attracted strong opinions both for and against, the Committee said it does not seek to take a side on the principle, but rather to examine the practical details.

‘We will seek to understand what a minimum service might mean for different lines operated by different companies’, said Transport Committee Chair Iain Stewart MP on February 9. ’How many services per day would routes between busy commuter hubs expect to see, and would stations in isolated areas get any trains at all?

’How will rail companies decide which workers are needed and which aren’t, who can strike and who can’t? And what impact will running a reduced service on strike days have on timetabling, given we know that ripples of disruption continue into the morning after a strike if trains are in the wrong places.

‘The government has also argued that minimum service requirements are common in other countries, so this Committee will look at what can be learnt from looking abroad.’

Written evidence can be submitted until March 9.