Rail misery ramps up for December

reigate train station sign


The next phase of the rail dispute gets under way today, as ASLEF and RMT drivers go on strike Tuesday 13  – Wednesday 14 December.

The strike will be repeated on Friday 16 December.  During the  action, there will be “no Southern services on any routes” across the network.

However, Reigate will continue to be served by GWR’s east-west service, allowing changes to be made onto non-Southern services at stations such as Dorking or Redhill.  But Southern have warned that other operators’ services will be very busy, and are advising people not to attempt to travel.

In more bad news, Southern has announced that even on non-strike weekdays, direct services between Reigate and London will cease until further notice.  This is as a result of the drivers’ ongoing overtime ban.  Instead, a Southern rail shuttle service will operate between Reigate and Redhill, as well as the normal GWR east-west services.

Rail travel in December is getting fairly complicated given the three types of industrial action: drivers’ overtime ban, drivers’ strikes and conductors’ strikes.  Southern’s strike advice page now sets out advice fairly clearly for each of these, and there’s also the daily information published by volunteers on the Reigate, Redhill & District Rail Users’ Association (RRDRUA) Facebook page.

Besides the drivers’ overtime ban, the current list of strikes is:

  • Tuesday 13 – Wednesday 14 December (ASLEF & RMT drivers’ strike)
  • Friday 16 December (ASLEF & RMT drivers’ strike)
  • Monday 19 –  Tuesday 20 December (RMT conductors’ strike)
  • Saturday 31 December -Monday 2 January (RMT conductors’ strike)
  • Monday 9 – Saturday 14 January (ASLEF & RMT drivers’ strike)

The industrial action relates to a change in the role of guards on trains, whereby the drivers are being given the responsibility for opening the doors.  Govia Thameslink Railway (which operates Southern) says it’s safe, while the unions say it isn’t.

RRDRUA has written an open letter to the Prime Minister, Theresa May, calling on her to intervene directly, and participate in negotiations with the RMT and ASLEF:

“This dispute is leading to the breakdown of family life, health / stress issues and the reduced productivity for British business lost waiting for trains that don’t run.

We have listened to your rhetoric about your government being for the ordinary people of this country. We are ordinary people and call on you to intervene directly in this dispute, to get it resolved quickly and swiftly for all our sakes.

It is no good stating this is a dispute between GTR and the unions because that is not totally correct. Your Department for Transport is demanding modernisation which the rail company is trying to implement so your Government is a fully responsible party to this dispute.”

The group also calls on the ASLEF and the RMT to participate, and makes suggestions to help resolve the dispute and longer-term issues affecting travel on Southern.

The Prime Minister is one of a number of politicians to be approached about the various problems faced by local rail users since London Bridge upgrade work began in early 2015.   RRDRUA and its president, Crispin Blunt, (Conservative) MP for Reigate, have attended meetings and engaged in correspondence with ministers.


Minor edit 15 Dec 2016