“It’s catastrophic,” said Dan Pullen from the N+1 cycle workshop and cafe, just outside Brighton Station on the morning of the first day of the latest round of strikes (January 10).
Brighton and Hove commuters face yet another period of disruption, and local business owners said they are coming under increasing strain as a direct result of the dispute about passenger safety on Southern Rail.
“The troubles are so bad and ongoing and unstable that people aren’t even chancing coming to the station,” said the cafe’s owner, who said his business has been severely impacted by the reduction in passing trade since the Southern dispute began.
The dispute between Govia Thameslink, which runs the Southern franchise, and the RMT and ASLEF unions, which represent conductors and drivers, is over the move to driver-only operations on trains.
This month Mr Pullen said he will pay his staff and suppliers without taking a wage for himself, while some businesses have had to shed staff or in some cases close down due to the impact on trade.
Other nearby businesses report that trade is reduced by around 50 per cent or more on the days when industrial action takes place.
Jean Jacques Migliore, the manager of Muse Cafe on Queens Road, said that with tax bills coming up the timing of the strikes and the consequent reduction in income makes things all the more difficult.
“Not really happy but what can we do?” he said.
Inside the station, security staff in high-visibility jackets with the words ‘crowd control’ on their backs look somewhat out of place in a quieter-than-usual Brighton Station. The security staff are on alert, according to one of them, in case of anticipated demonstrations over the disruption.
No Southern services will run today (January 10), tomorrow or Friday as a result of a train drivers’ strike.