Southern loses last ditch attempt to stop train drivers strikes

Southern trains at Brighton railway station

Southern trains at Brighton railway station

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Southern has lost a last-ditch attempt to stop train drivers strikes from starting tomorrow (Tuesday December 13).

Rail operator Govia Thameslink Railway has told passengers not to expect any Southern services to run either tomorrow, Wednesday or Friday, which are all ASLEF union strike days.

The High Court threw out the company’s bid to stop the strikes, while an application to the Court of Appeal was also refused today (Monday December 12).

Charles Horton, chief executive of Govia Thameslink Railway, said: “Naturally we are disappointed with this decision.

“We had a responsibility to the travelling public to do what we could to stop this unprecedented strike action.

“Regrettably, there will be no train services for passengers tomorrow, Wednesday and Friday. We strongly advise people not to travel. In addition, there will be severe disruption every day during the ongoing industrial action because of the union’s overtime ban.

“This is wholly unjustified and unnecessary industrial action. The widespread use of drivers operating trains is perfectly safe both in Southern and elsewhere in the UK where a third of trains operate this way every day.

“We will now be asking ACAS to convene urgent and immediate talks between GTR and ASLEF; talks that we hoped to get moving over the weekend, but ASLEF would not agree. Our aim is to find a resolution to their dispute so we can bring an end to the misery being suffered by the travelling public.”

Earlier today Angie Doll, passenger services director for Southern, said: “We hope for the sake of our passengers our application to the Court of Appeal is successful. Even if we are able to stop the strikes through the court, services will still be very heavily impacted tomorrow. We will work through the night to try and provide as many services as possible, but we are still advising passengers not to travel as we will not be able to offer a robust service they can rely on.

“We are sorry but the industrial action by ASLEF leaves us no viable alternative, but be assured we will do all we can overnight.”

Passengers are advised to check the Southern website for the latest information.

The dispute is over GTR’s plans to introduce driver-only operation on Southern routes, which would see drivers open and close train doors.

The RMT union, which represents the conductors due to become on-board supevisors, has alread held 11 strikes in 2016 and is due to hold another two before the end of the year.

More to follow.

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