Latest Rail News

08.12.16

High Court allows Aslef Southern strikes to go ahead

The High Court has ruled that Aslef train drivers’ strikes on Southern Rail can go ahead from next week, after Govia Thameslink Railway’s (GTR’s) legal challenge failed.

GTR, the operator of the Southern franchise, had sought an injunction to stop industrial action by Aslef members, who voted to strike due to a longstanding row over driver-only operated (DOO) trains.

The company argued that the proposed strikes, combined with those by RMT, would bring all Southern services to a grinding halt and breach customers' rights to travel freely around the EU due to disruption to its Gatwick Airport services.

It may now appeal against the High Court’s decision.

Charles Horton, chief executive of GTR, had said that the TOC was forced to take legal action against Aslef after it refused to co-operate with the company and re-enter discussions.

“Passengers now face the prospect of 40 days of continuous industrial action by Aslef, and, on top of months of travel misery they've already suffered, it is totally unacceptable,” he argued.

Aslef’s lawyer successfully argued in court that the case concerned the union’s “fundamental right to pursue its industrial action”. It will now launch three days of action next week, along with a 24-hour walkout on 16 December and a week-long strike due in the New Year.

The union’s general secretary Mick Whelan said in response to the result: “Once again, we see that GTR/Southern is a company desperate to seek to prevent the voice of their put-upon employees being heard.”

Earlier this month, the government announced that over 84,000 Southern season ticket holders will be offered compensation equivalent to one month’s free travel in an attempt to appease passengers who have dealt with months of disruption.

Strikes and other related problems on Southern’s lines will cost GTR around £38m this year, according to the operator’s estimates.

A Southern spokesperson said that the company was “disappointed” with today's decision and will now review matters with its legal team.

Comments

Jimbo   09/12/2016 at 09:52

So is this ASLEF drivers who have operated DOO for many years without any issues deciding they don't like it anymore, or is it ASLEF drivers who currently have a guard and don't fancy the extra responsibility that DOO gives them. Nice to see that the drivers are so well paid that they can skip work to support their other RMT colleagues. Meanwhile, the unions continue to screw the passengers and demonstrate that they care only about their own political power.

Merseyferry   09/12/2016 at 11:40

The fundamental Issue is SAFETY and DOO has not been provenSAFE in any aspect. As an engineer who knows about door control systems and the lack of maintenance by TOC's and Rosco's this may never be proven. I am all for improving our railways and the system it operates on to increase customer satisfaction and passenger comfort, but we need to make sure all area's are covered by SAFE SYSTEMS of work for both the Railway Workers and the end users the PASSENGERS.

John Grant   09/12/2016 at 17:19

I can remember when passengers operated the doors themselves. And trains didn't get cancelled (as happened to me earlier this year) because the doors wouldn't lock (or maybe it was that the control panel wouldn't say they were locked). We've essentially had a controlled experiment on the safety of DOO, with it being used on some lines and not others, for long enough now that there must be some hard evidence (e.g. casualties per million passenger journeys) that would allow the two systems to be compared.

Sarah B   09/12/2016 at 18:49

So how come Aslef representatives have said in the past that safety was not compromised as a result of DOO, as mentioned in the ruling.

Ade   09/12/2016 at 23:38

@Merseyferry - The whole of London Underground is DOO, many Southern services are DOO already and on the Brighton line, Thameslink services are DOO whilst Southern are not, which makes no sense at all. *All* the accident statistics show that DOO is just as safe as trains with guards, which is why the safety experts say the DOO is safe. The unions are not safety experts but are very quick to play the safety card to hide the real reason for the strikes. RMT currently has to power to stop trains running, but with no guards, they lose that power, so this is a political power play by a union scared of losing strength. Rather than admit this, they use the same excuse they always use. So these strikes are based on a lie, which is bad enough, but that lie is causing huge problems for their customers, forcing them onto alternative travel means which are provably less safe than DOO trains. By striking, the unions are hurting the people they are supposed to be serving. So thanks RMT for screwing us.

Jak Jaye   10/12/2016 at 09:42

I know this will come as a shock to some people but you cannot run a railway without people,what happens if there is a serious accident and the driver is incapacitated ? the mob factor comes in to play i.e. every man for himself anyone who is old or infirm has no chance. And instead of bashing the unions how is it nothing is said about the cowboy TOC's who's only interest is making as much money as they can and if you think GTR care about their passengers just log onto Realtime Trains and click on any of the stations served,day in week out 99% of trains are delayed or cancelled and it beggers belief that the government are offering millions to passengers as compensation,GTR should be pay for that out of its inflated profits. And as for Graylings idea of giving some of NotWork Fail to the likes of Virgin,First Group etc what a joke

Jimbo   10/12/2016 at 12:33

Jak Jaye - in the last serious accident (Croydon tram last month) there was no guard and there were no mobs. We can all make up scenarios where a guard might be useful, but in the real world, there is no statistical evidence to back this up. Besides, GTR are not planning to get rid of the 2nd member of staff, just make their role people focussed instead of train focussed - isn't that better for the safety of people ? Looking at realtimetrains right now for East Croydon, in the next half an hour there is one train cancelled (due to staff issues), 3 trains 2 minutes late, 1 train 8 minutes late, and 21 trains on time. Looks pretty good to me. Official stats aren't good for GTR, but 99% ?!? Come on, stop making stuff up. GTR aren't totally blameless but they aren't the ones striking. If the unions were trying to help insure services ran on time and pressuring GTR to improve, then I would be impressed, but they are doing the opposite. Causing trouble for their own political gain. Besides, GTR are only trying to implement the conditions of their contract with the government - DOO is part of the contract and GTR have no choice to implement it. The government are letting GTR take all the heat, but that is politics for you. If you bothered to check the numbers, you would also see that the TOC's make tiny profits. The vast majority of GTR's parent company profits come from buses not trains. Besides why are profits bad ? They pay tax on them, much of the money goes to shareholders, who spend it and so on. Profits keep the economy going and help everyone. GTR also employs far more people (either directly or indirectly) than BR did for the same operations, so they are creating lots of jobs. Those jobs are also better paid than they were under BR. Isn't that what the unions are for ? Making sure people have jobs and decent salaries ?

Jimbo   10/12/2016 at 13:33

Anyway, this has got off the subject a bit. Why are ASLEF striking ? They have previously agreed to DOO and negotiated a pay rise for their members for the additional responsibility for DOO (which is fair enough). So, why are they now striking over it ? Do they have new evidence about the safety of DOO which they didn't have before ? Are their members going to give back their pay rise if they no longer support DOO ? If they are just supporting their RMT colleagues, aren't solidarity strikes illegal ?

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