Sussex bishops plead for end to '˜misery' of Southern rail strikes

Church of England bishops in Sussex have called for an end to the '˜cycle of blame' in the ongoing Southern rail dispute which they say is causing misery in the lead up to Christmas.

Dr Martin Warner, Bishop of Chichester
Dr Martin Warner, Bishop of Chichester

Southern is warning of ‘severe and significant’ delays as they latest three-day strike action, now involving drivers’ union Aslef, began today

In a letter jointly addressed to Govia Thamslink Railway, the parent company of Southern, union leaders and the Department of Transport, the Bishop of Chichester, Dr Martin Warner, refers to the misery caused to working people and their families who rely on the railways for travel.

In the letter, backed by the bishops of Horsham, Mark Sowerby, and Lewes, Richard Jackson, Dr Warner - the diocesan bishop whose whole Diocese is served mainly by Southern - said: “We understand the complexity of the issues for those jointly responsible for this dispute.

“But we believe they have a pressing moral duty to alleviate the damage that the disruption is causing to communities.

He said: “Someone has to lead the way. We urge Paul Maynard, RMT and Govia to renew efforts to bring this dispute to an end.”

Dr Warner added: “Those who are suffering most as a result of this dispute are working people and their families and those who do not have their own emans of transport.

“The ongoing dispute affects us all. It threatens the economic health and development of our communities.”

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