More disruption for commuters as latest Southern strike begins

Members of the RMT union outside Horsham Railway Station (photo by the RMT). SUS-161123-093128001
Members of the RMT union outside Horsham Railway Station (photo by the RMT). SUS-161123-093128001

The ninth Southern rail strike of 2016, lasting 48 hours, is creating yet more problems for commuters today (Wednesday November 23).

The RMT union and rail operator Govia Thameslink Railway have been locked in a bitter dispute for months over plans to change the role of conductors to on-board supervisors.

It has already held eight walkouts this year, and after this week’s 48-hour strike it has another three planned between now and the new year.

After problems on the network last Thursday, the RMT’s general secretary Mick Cash said it reinforced the union’s campaign to keep guards on Southern trains.

He added: “We have to end the madness of leaving the driver as the sole person ‎to cope in these emergency situations. This lethal gamble with rail safety has to stop before we have a tragedy on our hands.‎”

He said Transport Secretary Chris Grayling and the Government should be ‘hanging their heads in shame’.

Southern announced it will be providing an additional train service on the Tonbridge/Redhill Line during this week’s strike (which started at midnight last night), meaning that 62 per cent of the normal timetable will be running.

In addition to the London Victoria/Haywards Heath shuttles it introduced in the last strike, Southern will be providing a further 28 trains between Tonbridge and Redhill, with an hourly service running from around 6.30am-6.30pm.

Trains between London Victoria and Chichester will run later this time around with last services leaving Victoria at 21.36 and from Chichester at 21.23.

Angie Doll, Southern’s passenger services director, said: “We are doing everything we can to provide as many services for our passengers as possible and I’m pleased that we’re able to add more services this time to help our passengers get where they need to go.

“We’re sorry that, once again, our passengers are facing disruption through unnecessary industrial action. Over 99% of affected conductors have now signed up to the new role, which makes this strike even more pointless.”

The RMT has also called two more three-day strikes starting Thursday December 22 and Saturday December 31.