By Phil Marsh

FORTY days of strikes commence on Southern as London Underground strikes also underway

Published: 6th December 2016

Enhanced compensation announced for strike and delay hit passengers

The industrial dispute which has plagued Southern passengers since April has now been extended into 2017. With effect from 6 December until further notice, there will not be any Southern services operating between East Croydon, Kensington Olympia, Watford Junction and Milton Keynes, London Bridge and Beckenham Junction along with Brighton to Seaford services will all be cancelled.

Forty days of action have now commenced with Southern drivers’ strikes planned to commence on 13 December, and if it takes place Southern services will not run. Gatwick Express trains will operate a reduced service every 30 minutes and where trains are operating, a crowd control system will be in place.

They said:

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 a seeking an injunction in the High Court citing its belief the union's industrial action breaches customers' rights under EU law.

“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.”

What’s happening (or not) when?

It is only Southern trains that will be affected by the strikes, other operators such as Thameslink will run but will be extremely busy as they run on the same routes as Southern to places like Brighton and Gatwick from London. In addition to the strikes, drivers are going on an overtime ban from 6 December until further notice resulting in serious widespread disruption.

• Guards will be on strike on 6/7/8 December.

• Guards and drivers will be taking more time out on 13/14 and 16 December

• Guards will be on strike on 19/20 December.

• They will also be taking a long break between 31 December and 2 January and a joint strike with drivers and guards takes place between 9 and 14 January.

Where does Southern operate?

Southern runs trains between London and the Sussex coast (Brighton, Worthing, Eastbourne, Bognor Regis, Hastings) and parts of Surrey, Kent and Hampshire (Ashford International, Southampton, Portsmouth) plus the Gatwick Express between Gatwick Airport and London Victoria

They said:

Charles Horton, Chief Executive of GTR, said:

“We launch legal action reluctantly but now without any other choice. Obviously we would prefer to resolve this directly with ASLEF. We asked the union to withdraw the industrial action and to re-enter discussions but they refused to do so, which means that we now have no choice but to go to court.

“We have a responsibility to our customers to do all we can to protect their interests and maintain services for them. Passengers now face the prospect of 40 days of continuous industrial action by ASLEF, and, on top of months of travel misery they’ve already suffered, it is totally unacceptable. The proposed industrial action called by ASLEF is unjustified, unnecessary and we believe unlawful.

It will severely disrupt all our customers, including the tens of thousands of customers a day who use our services for travelling to and from Gatwick Airport. We believe that the industrial action breaches our and our customers’ rights under EU law and so we are seeking an injunction to stop the industrial action.

“It’s perfectly safe for the driver to have sole responsibility for the operation of a modern train, and that's how a third of the trains up and down the country - with the full agreement and support of ASLEF - already operate today.”

More compensation announced

The Transport Select Committee has welcomed the Department for Transport announcement that Southern Railway passengers will be entitled to compensation which is as follows:

From 11 December 2016, GTR's passengers will be entitled to compensation for train services delayed by 15 minutes or more (currently 30 minutes)

Southern Railway season ticket holders will be able to claim back one month's payment on their annual 2016 tickets

They said:

Chair of the Committee, Louise Ellman MP, commented:

“Many Southern Railway passengers have been receiving an abysmal service for nearly 18 months. The Government's promise of enhanced compensation was made nearly six months ago. Today, at last, Southern and GTR passengers have received some good news on compensation. This is welcome, and long overdue.

“The Committee recommended automatic delay compensation for GTR's passengers but the Department has placed the onus on passengers to apply for Delay Repay 15. They will be contacted in the New Year and invited to claim.

“We urge the train companies to take every step possible to make passengers are made aware of the scheme and to make the claim process made as straightforward as possible. The Transport Committee will be keeping a close watch on how this compensation scheme works in practice. One month's money back is the very least that Southern Railway season ticket holders deserve.

“Finally, the Department has rightly prioritized the introduction of the Delay Repay 15 for GTR customers. However, this creates an unfairness for passengers on the rest of the network who can only claim when their trains are delayed by at least 30 minutes. We would like to hear when the DfT will roll out the scheme to the rest of the country – the sooner, the better.

London Underground strikes also commence

The RMT has also co-ordinated strike action on London’s Circle, Hammersmith & City and Piccadilly lines tube network. These started on the evening of 6 December and all the following day. This affects the tube link to Heathrow Airport.

London Underground is in discussion with the RMT union regarding both disputes. The vote for strike action from members for both disputes was extremely low – on the Piccadilly line only 168 drivers out of 408 voted for strike action, and on the Circle and Hammersmith & City lines only 43 out of 265 drivers voted for of strike action.

What’s it about?

Some Circle and Hammersmith & City lines drivers are taking breaks of an hour or more calling them “toilet breaks” bringing cancellations for passengers.

The action means that other underground lines, buses and streets will be very busy. More buses will be operated plus a Heathrow shuttle from Hammersmith.

What’s it about?

Some Circle and Hammersmith & City lines drivers are taking breaks of an hour or more calling them “toilet breaks” bringing cancellations for passengers.

The action means that other underground lines, buses and streets will be very busy. More buses will be operated plus a Heathrow shuttle from Hammersmith.

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