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Better Rail: TSSA's Summer of Action

5 September 2012

Better Rail has heated up over summer! Our TOC Reps decided to take up a challenge and make this season TSSA’s Summer of Action – 12 weeks of actions in our fight for a better railway.

Better Rail Sun

Over the first six months of the year TSSA members have, on average, held an action every week as part of the Better Rail campaign – setting a new standard that TSSA members can be proud of. Here are just some of the actions TSSA members have led over the past 12 weeks. Around a dozen TOCs were involved, with additional activity organised via Spectrum. Our self-organised group (SOG) of LGBT members released their Better Rail Spectrum Survey shortly after their weekend school. Several branches took the lead with leafleting sessions and joining in with phone banks to support the Virgin campaign.


Olympic Pledge Actions

TSSA members distributed 50,000 pledge cards noting the vital role played by members in delivering the Olympics and Paralympics. The aim is to get the travelling public from around the world on our side – not just during the games – but in the future. By signing up to the Pledge members of the public demonstrate their support for a properly funded, fully integrated public transport system, and for our campaign for Better Rail. Members feel a deep commitment to provide a quality public service and these pledges were a way to communicate this directly to passengers.

TSSA at Tolpuddle Martyrs Festival

This summer Better Rail went to the Tolpuddle Martyrs Festival. We asked people at the festival what they thought would make a better railway. No surprises – there was a strong view that the railways should be publically owned.

Virgin dispute

Our TOC reps pledged their support in the fight for union rights and job security at Virgin Trains. A group of reps from across a number of TOCs got together to join a phone bank, calling members in Virgin to discuss the issues. Martin Hodges speaking at National TOC Reps Seminar Despite the recent announcement that Virgin Trains have lost the franchise to First Group, our reps remain committed to organising and are planning a series of activities to build our union on the West Coast route.

Better Rail Principles for Essex Thameside

In the April Journal we showcased our reps from c2c who were organising their TOC as part of the Better Rail launch. Their work has gone from strength to strength as they continue to talk to c2c workers about their most pressing issues such as the removal of safety glass from ticket office windows, staff cuts and ticketing problems. Their feedback will help form ‘Better Rail Principles’ that we will include in our submissions and take to the bidders for the new franchise and ask for their responses. Our principles will also be shared with the community, to shape our demands even further and build support for Better Rail on Essex Thameside. Mary Sithole reporting back at National TOC Reps Seminar Mary Sithole, Workplace Rep on c2c says, ‘People are keen to share their thoughts about what changes they would like to see. Our members want their pay and conditions to line up with the other TOCs as c2c workers are some of the lowest paid amongst TOCs. Everyone appreciates having a job, but want to feel they are valued.’

Fares Action

Our Better Rail activists spread the word on fares again following the announcement of the RPI in August, setting the horror fare increases for 2013 at 6.2 per cent. TSSA joined other rail unions in a national day of action on fares for the TUC led Action for Rail campaign. Susan Pattwell, Workplace Rep Southeastern said, ‘Passengers at Waterloo told us it was outrageous that they have to pay more for the same service. We see more fare dodging after prices increase as people genuinely can’t afford it. We all need to get involved in the fares campaign – if we all get together, our actions can add up to a lot.’

Fares Demo

Spectrum take action for Better Rail

Self-Organised Group Spectrum designed their own Better Rail postcard-survey action for the summer. Releasing the survey at Pride events throughout July and August, Spectrum hope to identify new members who want to get active on transport issues, particularly safety on trains and stations. To take the survey visit

Spectrum Postcard

Get active in the for Better Rail

Better Rail Workplace Survey During the Summer of Action we released the Better Rail Workplace Survey, an action designed to take Better Rail directly to TSSA’s members and potential members. Our survey is designed to gather information on workplace issues and people’s thoughts on what will make a better railway. This information will shape our Better Rail Industry Standards that will be the core aim of TSSA’s Better Jobs bargaining agenda for 2013 and beyond. See for more information on Better Jobs.

Our survey is simple:
Q – What are the top three issues you face in your workplace?
Q – What do you think will make a better railway?

How you can get active:

  • Make a list of who you want to approach about completing the survey; l Request survey forms online at
  • Request survey forms online at We will send you a survey pack including forms and envelopes to post back the surveys.
  • Ask your colleagues to fill out a survey. Help them by completing it with them, then and there.
  • Collect the completed surveys and send them in together (don’t forget to indicate on the surveys your details so we know who sent them in).
  • Go to your next branch or company council meeting as we will send them the information gathered from the surveys in your workplace.
  • We will collect and analyse the surveys at the national level but also send out the specific results from your workplace to your company council and/or relevant branches. This way we will know if there are common issues across employers and also provide your company council and branch the information they need to organise your workplaces and resolve issues.


Other ways you can get active

pledge to come to the October 20 march at arrange a postcard action on fares or better stations, see show our film at your next branch or workplace meeting weet your thoughts on #betterrail

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