SOUTHERN Railway passengers face fresh disruption today because of an overtime ban by drivers, as a commuters’ group goes to court to seek a judicial review of the franchise. “This will create a timetable with stability and consistency. Passengers are advised to expect a reduced service on certain routes and to allow extra time for their journeys,” said a statement.
Passenger services director Angie Doll said: “This action is going to be very inconvenient to our passengers and communities but by putting in this revised timetable we will be able to run a more reliable and consistent service.”We’ve been safely running our trains with drivers closing the doors on additional routes since January and have had six months of sustained improvement in service levels and positive passenger feedback. “We urge Aslef to put an end to their industrial action and allow passengers to get on with their lives.”Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan said the overtime ban reflected the “total loss of trust and goodwill” between train drivers and the company.
“The shortage of train drivers is wholly down to a lack of recruitment by Southern, who have made no effort to recruit drivers over many years, a point echoed by the government-commissioned Gibb Report last week. “In fact, responsibility lies with GTR/Southern’s managing director, Charles Horton, who has run the company and its predecessors on the cheap for nearly a decade and has always put the interests of shareholders ahead of those of passengers and taxpayers.”The Association of British Commuters said it had unearthed a report completed for the rail industry two years ago which advises against driver-only trains running to unstaffed stations because of the impact on disabled and elderly passengers.
The report says: “There should always be on-board staff available to assist passengers at unstaffed stations.” A spokesman for ABC said: “It is clear that this is a high-quality report and one that was originally written for the benefit of policy-makers and those who work on the railway.”The near total exclusion of disabled and older people from the driver-only debate has gone on so long that we believe the public has the right to view its recommendations.”The report, On Track For 2020? The Future Of Accessible Rail Travel, has been kept under lock and key, the group said.Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union on Southern will stage a 24-hour strike on July 10 in the ongoing dispute over staffing and driver-only trains