Train operator South Western Railway scraps its onboard catering - putting 130 jobs at risk

TRAIN passengers will no longer be able to get refreshments on services in the south as the train operator has cancelled its catering contarct – putting 130 jobs at risk.

By Kimberley Barber
Wednesday, 9th December 2020, 2:50 pm
Portsmouth Harbour railway station

South Western Railway, which operates services to Portsmouth and across the south from London Waterloo, plans to terminate its on-board catering contract with Elior in January, putting more than 130 jobs at risk of redundancy.

It said the decision was made after consultation with passengers and due to falling passenger numbers caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The move has been criticised by rail union RMT, who have called for Department for Transport to intervene and reverse the decision.

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Staff employed by Elior on the SWR contract have been told that the operator’s termination of the contract mean they are due to be made redundant on January 17.

RMT has written to the secretary of state for transport, Grant Shapps MP, calling for him ‘as a matter of urgency to intervene and reverse this reckless decision.’

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: ‘South Western Railway’s decision to axe its on-board catering provision is short-sighted and will undoubtedly worsen the passenger experience.

‘Axing this vital service is completely at odds with the need to restore passenger confidence in the railway.

‘There are now over 130 workers who unexpectedly face the prospect of losing their job come January 2021.

‘SWR’s operations are being fully funded by the DfT with public money, and the government cannot sit by and allow it to treat catering workers and passengers with contempt.

‘RMT is demanding that this decision is reversed and all jobs are protected.’

A spokesperson for South Western Railway said: ‘It is with regret that, following consultation with our passengers and the Department for Transport, we have had to terminate our contract with commercial catering company, Elior, as Covid-19 has made on train catering services unsustainable due to falling passenger numbers.

‘We will work with the company to ensure our vacancy lists are made available to any Elior employees affected by this decision.’

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