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Southern strike day one: Some commuters may have just 'given up' on attempting to travel by train

Rail users turn up to see if they can catch trains on day one of the strike

The Southern rail dispute has caused almost seven months of misery for commuters who use the line - and today saw the start of the latest three-day walkout by guards in an ongoing row over the proposed introduction of driver-only trains on the network. The train conductors' strike will last until the evening of Thursday 8th December.

The train operator, Southern, has warned its customers to expect continued disruption with more strikes to follow, including industrial action next week from train drivers who are due to stage their own walkout next week.

Buses replaced trains from Ashford International and Hastings - to Eastbourne today.

There was a reduced service from Eastbourne and Lewes into Brighton, up to Gatwick and into London Bridge and Victoria.

Trains from Tonbridge to Redhill were also reduced. And after seeing trains reinstated at the end of September, replacement buses have returned to and from the coastal town of Seaford in Sussex.

From the look of some of the region's railway stations, it seems as though many commuters may have just given up on trying to use the trains at all - instead finding other ways to get around. Malcolm Shaw reports.

Strike dates:

  • Tuesday 6 to Thursday 8 December (RMT conductors' strike)
  • Tuesday 13 & Weds 14 December (ASLEF & RMT drivers' strike)
  • Friday 16 December (ASLEF and RMT drivers' strike)
  • Monday 19 to Tuesday 20 December (RMT conductors' strike)
  • Saturday 31 December to Monday 2 Jan (RMT conductors' strike)
  • Monday 9 to Saturday 14 Jan (ASLEF and RMT drivers' strike)

Southern strike: From the picket line in Brighton

RMT picket line at Brighton station

A few RMT union members were gathered at Brighton railway station on the picket line to mark the start of their three day strike over proposed changes to the role of guards on Southern trains.

Garry Hassell, from the RMT, said he knew the disruption was difficult for commuters, but the strikers were hoping to achieve a long term goal..

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Three day rail strike set to cause travel chaos

Southern train customers will be affected

Southern Rail passengers have been warned to expect "severe and significant" disruption on the train network ahead of a three-day strike by conductors in an ongoing row over changes to their role.

The three-day walkout by members of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) will disrupt transport services on Tuesday 6th, Wednesday 7th and Thursday 8th December 2016.

The Railways Minister, Paul Maynard, was in Sevenoaks in Kent today to launch a new smart card which marks the rail operator Southeastern's first move towards "ticketless commuting", similar to the Oyster card system in the capital. Our Political Correspondent Phil Hornby took the opportunity to also ask him what he was doing to put a stop to the industrial disputes which have been causing misery for the region's commuters.

Advice from Southern Rail on travelling around the network during the RMT union strike between Tuesday 6th December and Thursday 8th December 2016.

Tuesday's London tube strike called off - Southern trains 3-day walkout to go ahead

The RMT union has suspended a 24-hour strike which was due to take place on the London underground tomorrow - Tuesday 6th December 2016.

The industrial action on the Piccadilly, and Hammersmith & City lines concerned separate disputes which the union says have been the subject of successful talks with London Underground at the conciliation service ACAS.

The union said that the Piccadilly line dispute has been resolved, and talks will continue on the other matter.

However, commuters and other rail users in the south east of England will continue to be affected by a three-day strike by Southern Rail conductors in a long running dispute over proposed changes to the role of guards.

The London Underground strike has been suspended

"Talks with London Underground have proved to be positive and focussed and as a result we have been able to make enough significant progress to allow us to suspend the strike action in both disputes that was scheduled for tomorrow evening.

“There is no question that the advances we have made have been down to the strength and resilience of our members in the workplace backed up by a determined and professional negotiating team. The solidarity that led to the resounding ballots for action has been absolutely decisive.

“The union thanks its members and its officers for the exceptional display of unity which has enabled us to make serious progress in resolving the issues at the heart of these disputes.”

– Mick Cash, General Secretary, RMT Union
  1. Philip Hornby

The Last Word, December 2016

This week, we look at the troubled Southern Railway: as Aslef pile on the pressure and join the RMT, it's the passengers who face even more strikes, more uncertainty.

And uncertainty, too, over Brexit: six months after the vote to quit the EU, the timetable and the detail are still unknown.

We look back over 2016, a year unlike any other, with that referendum, the election of Donald Trump, and leadership elections for Labour, the Tories, and UKIP. In fact, they enjoyed theirs so much, they did it twice.

Lively political debate for our final show of the year with:-

  • Tim Aker MEP - UKIP
  • Royston Smith MP - Conservative, Southampton Itchen
  • Baroness Smith of Basildon, from Sussex
  • Stephen Lloyd, until last year, Lib Dem MP for Eastbourne

Result of strike ballot of Southern Rail drivers to be announced

The result of a strike ballot among Southern Railway drivers will be announced today, raising the threat of travel chaos in the run up to Christmas.

Members of the drivers' union Aslef have been voting on whether to launch a campaign of industrial action in a dispute over driver-only trains. The union's executive will meet to discuss the outcome of the ballot before deciding the next move.

The row is separate from the long-running dispute between Southern and the Rail, Maritime and Transport union over changes to the role of conductors. Aslef accused the company of wanting to impose changes rather than reach an agreement.

The result of a strike ballot among Southern Railway drivers will be announced today Credit: ITV Meridian

"Our trade dispute with the company is that there should be no introduction and/or extension of new driver-only operated routes on Southern without the agreement of Aslef.

"We have genuinely sought to reach a compromise with Southern. We have always been prepared to talk to the company and we have always been of the view that it should be possible to do a deal, but it takes two to tango and the company has not been prepared to negotiate.

"They have dug in their heels and forced us to ballot our members."

– General secretary, RMT Union Mick Whelan

Aslef will have to give seven days notice of any industrial action.

Members of the RMT have staged a series of strikes on Southern in recent months, with three-day walkouts due to start on December 6, 22 and 31.

Southern services are also being disrupted on other days because of issues including a shortage of staff.

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Conductors told accept the deal on offer or face the sack

The operators of Southern Rail have told the main rail union, the RMT - unless they settle the dispute and accept the deal on offer, workers will be sacked.

Govia Thameslink say the union must agree and call off the strikes by Thursday, or they will have no choice. They say the dispute has brought misery for hundreds of thousands of passengers, and this ultimatum is all that's left to them.

But the RMT says the changes would threaten safety and security, and are adamant they won't give way. Here's Andy Dickenson with today's dramatic development.

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