The first of three days of strikes planned by Southern train drivers has started today (Tuesday January 10).
Train drivers’ union ASLEF is also due to walkout on Wednesday and Friday as part of a dispute with Govia Thameslink Railway over the introduction of driver-only operation on Southern services.
No Southern trains will run but Thameslink and Gatwick Express services will be in operation, while the rail operator is organising 200 coaches/buses each day to provide road links for essential travel from nine Southern stations.
However it is advising passengers that capacity on the buses will be limited and journey times will take much longer. Ticket acceptance on other operators’ transport has been put in place (full list on www.southernrailway.com).
Buses will link:
- Oxted with Sevenoaks (connect with Southeastern)
- Uckfield with Tunbridge Wells via Crowborough (connect to Southeastern)
- Eastbourne with Hastings (connect with Southeastern)
- Bexhill to Hastings (connect with Southeastern)
- Horsham to Dorking (connect with South West Trains)
- Hastings to Ashford calling all stations (connect to Southeastern)
- Chichester to Havant (connect with South West Trains)
- Seaford to Lewes calling all stations (local service, no onward connection)
- East Grinstead to Gatwick (connect to Gatwick Express)
Last week Angie Doll, Southern’s passenger service director, said: “There will be significant disruption and hardship next week caused by these pointless and unnecessary strikes. With this package of measures, we are putting in place a very limited number of alternative options to help people with essential travel needs get where they need to be. Unfortunately, there is no practical way we could replace 2,000-plus trains we run each day with buses, but what we are doing is providing transport to link some passengers into other operators’ stations where services are running normally.
“These buses will run from a small number of stations and space will be very limited, so we are asking those who don’t need to travel, or who have a viable alternative, to leave the space for those who have no other option. Anyone who does travel should expect to queue, plan for longer journeys and realise the service they join will be exceptionally busy.
“We are massively grateful to all the operators who are helping us in our efforts to keep passengers moving. This strike is futile – drivers are now operating the doors on over 75% of our trains and our on-board supervisors have moved into their new roles. It is now time the union move on too, and join us in delivering a modern railway for everyone.”
But Mick Whelan, general secretary of ASLEF, said: “The company has not been prepared to move – it is simply going through the motions, turning up at ACAS, as it did yesterday, and telling us that it intends to impose DOO.
“We remain committed to a negotiated settlement, as was reached with ScotRail, but it is difficult to negotiate with people who are not prepared to be flexible.
“We still believe a deal can be done but we are, at the moment, a long way from that position. It is time for the company to come up with a genuine offer rather than carry on posturing.”
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