TRAVEL: Southern warns of '˜severe' disruption to trains due to strikes

A train operating company is warning customers to expect '˜severe and significant' disruption to Southern and Gatwick Express services every day from Tuesday (December 6) when industrial action by ASLEF and RMT unions begins.

Southern trains

Commuters will face major delays from Tuesday when Southern drivers begin a ban on overtime working and conductors start a new three-day strike.

On December 13, drivers will begin the first wave of nine days of strike action planned, the company said.

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However, Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), Southern’s parent company, has applied to the High Court to stop the ASLEF strikes, with the hearing likely to be heard next week.

Southern is advising that ASLEF’s continuous drivers’ overtime ban from December 6 will severely affect services every day.

On RMT strike days this will result in only around 50 per cent of the full timetable being able to operate, Southern said.

If the ASLEF strikes go ahead, on these days no Southern services will operate, with only Thameslink services to Three Bridges and Brighton and a limited service on Gatwick Express.

Southern director Alex Foulds said: “Regrettably, because of this wholly unnecessary and unjustified industrial action, there will be severe and significant disruption on our network from next Tuesday and customers are advised that stations will be incredibly busy.

“If passengers can make alternative travel arrangements they should, and if they don’t have to travel they shouldn’t. If the drivers’ strikes go ahead, there will be no services on Southern and customers should not attempt to travel.

“We’re doing everything we can to stop the drivers’ strike and that’s why we are seeking an injunction in the High Court next week.

“This industrial action is a clearly co-ordinated and cynical manoeuvre by the unions to bring yet further travel misery to passengers as well as having a detrimental impact on the regional economy when it least needs it.

“If the unions are listening to passengers then they will call off all industrial action now and give hardworking commuters and their families their lives back.”

Thameslink services are not directly affected by the strike action, although these services are expected to be extremely busy.

Other operators’ services are not affected, but are likely to be busier.

Online journey planners will be updated only 24 hours before the strike date in question.

Customers are advised to check regularly for travel updates at

Drivers are due to strike on Tuesday, December 13 and Wednesday, December 14, Friday, December 16, and Monday, January 9 to Saturday, January 14.

The RMT is holding three-day walkouts starting Tuesday, December 6, Thursday, December 22, and Saturday, December 31.

Mick Whelan, ASLEF’s general secretary, said: “We have done our level best to try and reach a sensible, workable compromise with Southern in the interests of passengers as well as staff.

“We have always been happy to talk to the company, and we have always believed it is, or should be, possible to do a deal – as we did with ScotRail in Scotland –­ but it takes two to tango and the company has not been prepared to negotiate.”

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