Southern commuters launch bid for judicial review

Southern commuters fed up with '˜daily catastrophes' have launched a bid for a judicial review into the struggling rail network.

Southern train
Southern train

Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), which also runs Gatwick Express and Thameslink services, has been mired in a bitter dispute with the RMT union for months over plans to change the role of conductors to on-board supervisors.

Passengers have had to put up with a string of delays and cancellations, and now the Association of British Commuters is seeking a High Court review into decision-making at the Department for Transport.

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Last week the Government announced a £20m fund to help turnaround the performance of Southern services, just a day before Go-Ahead, the co-owners of Southern, announced yearly profits of nearly £100m.

The group has launched a crowd funding page to raise £25,000 to cover the initial stages of a judicial review.

In a statement on the Crowd Justice page, the group said: “The Southern Rail crisis is making the lives of commuters a daily misery. For over 18 months we have experienced severe delays and dangerously overcrowded trains and platforms, which form a major compromise to passenger safety.

“On a rail network already stretched to capacity, this summer became a nightmare for commuters on the Southern Rail network and barely a day goes by that we don’t hear of someone losing their job or relocating their home and family due to the sheer impossibility of living with this daily catastrophe.”

It added: “We have watched the situation deteriorate for months, and still the Department for Transport have abstained from their responsibility to ensure safety and service by intervening in a franchise that is quite clearly falling apart.

“We have no confidence in the latest £20m initiative by the DfT, which appears to be no more than a sticking plaster over a failing but highly profitable private company; paid for by tax payers’ money.”

The RMT is planning to strike over the conductor role changes for the fifth time this year, with a 48-hour walkout due to start on Wednesday (September 7).

Mick Cash, general secretary at the RMT, said: “The guards action this week on Southern goes ahead as planned. RMT remains available for serious talks but GTR clearly have no interest in resolving the dispute and it is also clear that the Government are propping them up financially and politically.

“Just a fraction of the £100 million the GTR parent company is hoarding in profits would be enough to keep a guard on the Southern trains, keep the trains safe and resolve the dispute. It is absolutely right to call for the Government to intervene and to hold those responsible for this contiuning shambles to account.”

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