Sussex rail strikes: Major disruption to last for ten days in build-up to Christmas
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Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) has ‘regrettably’ announced that Gatwick Express, Great Northern, Southern and Thameslink services will be disrupted for ten consecutive days in early December due to nationwide industrial action by the train drivers’ union ASLEF.
"Customers must check every journey, every day before setting off using nationalrail.co.uk, as services will run to different timetables each day. Trains may start later and finish earlier and on some days a small number of stations will have no service at all.
“Services will be much busier than usual, especially in the peak hours. There will be some disruption and long queues. Passengers may not be able to board their chosen service and should allow extra time for their journeys.”
There will be a nationwide ban on overtime by ASLEF. From Friday (December 1) to Saturday (December 9) – with the exception of Sunday, December 3 – an amended timetable will run ‘with fewer services across the entire network’.
GTR said: “This will help customers plan and offer more certainty with fewer short notice on-the-day alterations. With the exception of Sunday, December 3, Gatwick Express will not operate throughout the period of industrial action. Gatwick Airport customers will still be served by Southern and Thameslink trains.”
On Saturday, December 2 (network wide), trains will start later and finish earlier.
There has been a change to the service on Sunday (December 3), with Southern and Gatwick Express now running to the normal timetable but customers are being warned to check before they set off as ‘there may well be on-the-day short-notice changes’.
On Monday, December 4, Thameslink and Great Northern trains will restart between 7am and 9am ‘due to the knock-on effect’ of strike action the day before.
On Wednesday, December 6, no Southern trains will run due to strike action, ‘except for a limited shuttle service’ for airport customers, calling at London Victoria and Gatwick Airport only, between 7am and 11pm.
On Thursday, December 7, Southern trains will restart between 7am and 9am ‘due to the knock-on effect’ of strike action the day before.
On Saturday, December 9 (network wide) trains will start later and finish earlier, and stations west of Barnham near the south coast will have no service.
On Sunday, December 10, a new winter timetable begins.
GTR customer services director Jenny Saunders said she would ‘strongly urge’ customers to ‘check every journey, every day, so they aren't caught out’.
She added: “We’re really sorry for the disruption customers will experience as we make significant timetable changes during this period of sustained national industrial action.
“No two consecutive days will be the same, so please plan all your journeys carefully, including any connections with other operators, in advance at nationalrail.co.uk, and once again before you set off.
“Industrial action is terrible for everyone, and we hope for a national resolution as soon as possible.”
Online journey planners such as nationalrail.co.uk have been updated with the first three days of service, from December 1 to 3, and the remaining days’ travel ‘will follow shortly’.
A GTR spokesperson added: “Neighbouring train operators are also affected by the overtime ban and strikes on different days which may make our stations and trains even busier. If a journey involves using another train company, passengers must check with them for any changes to their services and ensure their onward connections are available on the day they are travelling.
“Sporting events will also be affected. Football fans should check online journey planners. They may need to find other ways to reach the games as there will be either no trains at all or none for the return trip.
“Unfortunately, rail replacement bus services cannot be provided on strike days due to the scale of the action. This includes those previously put in place for engineering work.”