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UK's worst rail service faces strike

The grim start to the year for rail passengers could be prolonged for several more weeks after staff at one of Britain's biggest rail franchises today voted for industrial action.

Following a New Year blighted blight  
a. Any of numerous plant diseases resulting in sudden conspicuous wilting and dying of affected parts, especially young, growing tissues.

 by overrunning engineering work, and with vital upgrades in Glasgow still incomplete, employees of First Great Western this morning came out in favour of industrial action. The franchise operates between London Paddington, Cardiff and the west country, and carries around 205,000 passengers per day as a vital commuter route into the capital.

It is the most notorious train service in Britain for reliability, with nearly a fifth of its trains arriving late. Passenger anger over timetable changes in the Bristol area sparked a fare strike A fare strike is a direct action in which people in a city with a public transit system carry out mass fare evasion. Jumping turnstiles, boarding buses through the back or very quickly through the front, and leaving doors open in subway stations are all tactics by which people can  last January and pressure groups are threatening to take further action, dismissing the latest timetable changes as ineffective.

The RMT RMT right mentotransverse (position of the fetus).
RMT 1. Registered Massage Therapist 2. Renal mesenchymal tumor
 union said 81% of FGW FGW First Great Western (UK train company)
FGW Finished Goods Warehouse
FGW Factory Gateway
FGW Field Gateway
 drivers affiliated with the union had voted to strike, with more than two-thirds of its guards backing a walkout. There was even stronger support from the same members for action "short of strike". The RMT said its executive would meet shortly to discuss what action to call.

The RMT general secretary, Bob Crowe, said the vote reflected members' anger over FGW's "confrontational style of management" including using managers as part-time guards on services. A spokesman for FirstGroup, FGW's owner, expressed "disappointment" at the vote and said managers were used as temporary guards only when staff were not available.

There have been calls for FirstGroup to be stripped of the franchise in the face of consistent underperformance since its £1bn contract was renewed in 2006. The rail minister, Tom Harris Tom Harris may refer to:
  • Tom Harris (politician) (born 1964), Scottish MP
  • Tom Harris (botanist), palaeobotanist
  • Tom Harris (global warming skeptic), Canadian head of the Natural Resources Stewardship Project
See also
, told the Guardian that FGW was being monitored closely but the company had not committed breaches of performance guidelines that would mean being stripped of the franchise.

FirstGroup has blamed Network Rail for many of its regular delays, saying they are often caused by overrunning engineering works as part of an upgrade of the creaking creak  
intr.v. creaked, creak·ing, creaks
1. To make a grating or squeaking sound.

2. To move with a creaking sound.

A grating or squeaking sound.
 Great Western route. But it has failed to convince a group of 20 MPs, who have urged the transport secretary, Ruth Kelly, to consider renationalising the franchise. In an early day motion filed in December, the MPs said the government should "conduct an urgent and public review to determine whether the interests of passengers would be better served by bringing the franchise back into public ownership".

Meanwhile, FirstGroup's Scotland franchise, First Scotrail, has called on Network Rail to set a date for the end of engineering work in Glasgow that was due to finish on Monday but is now set to continue indefinitely. First Scotrail said Network Rail – which let work on the west coast mainline mainline Drug slang verb To inject a drug  overrun 1. overrun - A frequent consequence of data arriving faster than it can be consumed, especially in serial line communications. For example, at 9600 baud there is almost exactly one character per millisecond, so if a silo can hold only two characters and the machine takes  by four days over the new year – could not guarantee when work at Shields Junction Shields Junction is the name given to the busy railway junction in the Shields Road area of Glasgow, Scotland.

The junction is heavily used by both passenger and freight services running on three separate railway lines out of Glasgow Central station.
 would end.
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Date:Jan 10, 2008
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