Commuters are facing further travel chaos as another union has announced strikes over the festive period.
Following a ballot, train drivers’ union ASLEF called for industrial action against Southern’s plans for driver-only trains on December 13, 14 and 16, with almost a week-long strike in the new year, beginning on January 9.
Charles Horton, CEO of Southern’s parent company Govia, said: “Passengers will rightly be furious that these wholly unnecessary and unjustified strikes have been called in the run up to Christmas and in the New Year.
“It’s a time for Santa and mistletoe, not strikes and misery. The union must think again about their vindictive desire to see Christmas cancelled for the travelling public”.
The row is separate from the RMT’s dispute with Southern over changes to the role of conductors. The RMT also have strike action planned over the festive period.
ASLEF have accused Southern of wanting to impose changes, rather than come to an agreement.
Mick Whelan, general secretary of ASLEF, 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 – but it takes two to tango and the company has not been prepared to negotiate”.
Mr Whelan also suggested that Southern only cares about profits for shareholders, and not about passenger safety.
Sussex University has also stepped in over the ongoing chaos, with Vice-Chancellor Adam Tickell adding his name to an open letter to Transport Secretary Chris Grayling, signed by businesses and residents along the mainline, which calls for the government to address issues around capacity and prioritize an upgrade of the line.
Grayling has announced he will make an “imminent decision” on the construction of a new Brighton mainline, as well as a plans to entitle passengers to compensation if their train is more than 15 minutes late.
The news comes after the boss of Brighton’s i360, Eleanor Harris, resigned from her post, claiming that the ongoing train dispute made it difficult to manage both her business and family life.
Picture Credit: Daniel Green