Rail jobs, staff issues and training

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 ?

Add your comment

 

rail technology magazine tv

more videos >

latest rail news

Freight leaders call for immediate infrastructure investment after election

25/05/2017Freight leaders call for immediate infrastructure investment after election

A key organisation representing rail freight in the UK has today urged the main political parties to back up manifesto promises for freight with ... more >
RAIB calls for safety review after passenger died leaning out of carriage window

25/05/2017RAIB calls for safety review after passenger died leaning out of carriage window

Network Rail and operators have been told to improve their safety standards and data sharing after a passenger was killed last year when they stu... more >
National rail journey growth slows, as GTR serves 6 million fewer passengers

25/05/2017National rail journey growth slows, as GTR serves 6 million fewer passengers

Passenger journeys nationally last year saw its lowest year-on-year growth since 2009-10, as journeys only increased by 0.8%, according to new da... more >

editor's comment

08/05/2017All set for Railtex

As the rail industry prepares for the biggest UK rail show of the year, Railtex 2017, we have produced a specially expanded edition of RTM for you.  Our exclusive show guide, which starts on page 67, provides you with everything you need to know about the things to see, hear and do at the three-day show. A look through our preview pages will give you a good idea of which stands to visit, as well as meetings to set up.  Th... read more >

last word

Collaborative working is the key to the future of rail infrastructure

Collaborative working is the key to the future of rail infrastructure

David Hawkins, operations director at the Institute for Collaborative Working (ICW), on why ISO 44001 is a new evolution in collaborative working. The launch of BS 11000 in 2010 heralded a s... more > more last word articles >

'the sleeper's' daily blog

Opinion poll: HS3 must take priority over Crossrail 2

19/05/2017Opinion poll: HS3 must take priority over Crossrail 2

Fresh from their victories in the metro mayor elections earlier this month, new leaders of Greater Manchester and Liverpool City Region Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram were quick to make transport a top priority for their cities last week. In a post on Twitter, both called on the government to prioritise plans for an HS3 link connecting the north west to the north east over additional work to the capital’s network through Crossrai... more >
read more blog posts from 'the sleeper' >

comment

Upskilling our workforce: how we need to think

19/05/2017Upskilling our workforce: how we need to think

Simon Rennie (pictured centre), general manager of the National Training Academy for Rail, on the importance of upskilling the current workforce ... more >
Inclusive design of ticket sales counters

17/05/2017Inclusive design of ticket sales counters

Boaz Yariv, senior architect, and Dr Elizabeth de Mello, senior ergonomics specialist at Network Rail, present the main features of the new inclu... more >
Small stations: simple changes for quick wins

17/05/2017Small stations: simple changes for quick wins

Richard Freeston-Clough of London TravelWatch explains how investing in small stations in the capital can deliver many benefits and also have a p... more >
Why are S&C layouts failing?

17/05/2017Why are S&C layouts failing?

Dr Sin Sin Hsu, programme engineering manager IP Track Development at Network Rail, analyses why switch and crossing (S&C) layouts fail prema... more >

rail industry focus

View all News

interviews

Intertrain: ready for the future

23/02/2017Intertrain: ready for the future

RTM recently attended Intertrain’s ‘Driving for Success’ event in Doncaster, where leaders from major players such as Carillion... more >