Southern grinds to a halt as another strike begins
Southern has cancelled all trains again as another three days of drivers’ strikes by Aslef began.
In revised action, the union will strike today, tomorrow and Friday, after initially announcing non-stop strikes from 9 to 14 January, in protest at Southern’s roll-out of driver-only operation (DOO), where train guards are unable to open doors.
In response, Southern cancelled all rail services. It is providing buses from a small number of stations to allow passengers to access other rail companies, but warned passengers that these would be very busy and should only be used for essential travel. Crowd control measures will be in place at all stations where buses or trains will operate.
Angie Doll, Southern’s passenger service director, said: “Once again we wish to remind our passengers not to attempt to travel unless it is absolutely necessary on this week’s strike days.
“There will also be significant disruption and hardship on the days Aslef is not on strike because of their overtime ban, especially on Thursday when trains will be out of position because of the strikes on each day either side. We are deeply sorry for the unnecessary and unwarranted disruption this dispute is causing.”
She called the strike “utterly disproportionate” and “pointless”, given that DOO has been judged safe by the ORR.
Following the ORR’s recent report, Chris Grayling, the transport secretary, asked the regulator to draw up a national safety framework for DOO dispatch.
Industrial action in the DOO dispute, began by RMT and joined by Aslef after it defeated efforts by Southern’s parent company Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) to obtain an injunction, has contributed to serious disruption on Southern, with GTR’s PPM falling to 61.9%.
RMT and GTR announced yesterday that they had agreed to fresh talks to try to reach a resolution, while Grayling has invited unions to meet with him directly. Members of the British Chamber of Commerce are also talking to Grayling and rail minister Paul Maynard to try to resolve the issue because of the disruption caused to businesses in the south east.
“It is now time the union stopped abusing their power to call unjustified strikes and join us in delivering a modern railway for everyone,” Doll added.
(Image c. Kirsty O'Connor from PA Wire and PA Images)
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