Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Southern Rail Strike: Commuters Face Travel Chaos

All of Southern's services will be halted - causing the worst disruption since a strike by signal workers in the mid-1990s.

Hundreds of thousands of commuters face the worst rail disruption in decades this morning as three days of strikes begin on Southern Rail.

All of Southern's services will be halted due to the action by members of the Aslef and RMT unions over a long-running dispute about driver-only trains.

Southern has "strongly advised" passengers not to travel for the rest of the week after losing its appeal against a judge's refusal to grant an injunction blocking the strike.

Commuters have already faced months of disruption because of industrial action, staff shortages and last-minute alterations - and many have said their bosses are getting fed up of staff struggling to get to work.

But the conclusion of the Aslef strike on Friday will give little respite for passengers, as RMT union guards will walk out on Monday and Tuesday next week over a row with Southern Rail about changes to the role of guards.

They will strike again for three days from New Year's Eve, while Aslef is planning a week-long strike from January 9.

The shutdown of Southern's services this week will affect up to 500,000 passengers and is the worst disruption since the railways were hit by a lengthy strike by signal workers in the mid-1990s.

Charles Horton, chief executive of Southern's owners Govia Thameslink Railway, called the industrial action "wholly unjustified and unnecessary".

Image Caption:Passengers caught in an RMT strike on Southern Railway in October

He said: "The widespread use of drivers operating trains is perfectly safe both in Southern and elsewhere in the UK where a third of trains operate this way every day.

"We will now be asking Acas to convene urgent and immediate talks between GTR and Aslef.

"Our aim is to find a resolution to their dispute so we can bring an end to the misery being suffered by the travelling public."

Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan said the union had "tried everything possible" to come to an agreement with Southern.

He said: "We have always been prepared to sit down and talk, because we have always believed it is, or should be, possible to do a deal - as we did with ScotRail - but the company, encouraged by the Department for Transport, has not been prepared to negotiate with us."

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has called on Aslef to cancel its strike and branded the chaos on Southern's services "a total disgrace".

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