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Southern Railway strike: Commuters to be hit by three days of strike action

Aslef train drivers on the Southern network will strike on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday this week. Credit: PA

Southern Railway passengers will suffer three days of chaos this week as train drivers strike again in the long-running dispute over driver-only trains.

The company told commuters to only travel if it was necessary, with only limited bus links from a small number of stations.

Train drivers will walk out on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday.

Replacement bus services

Southern is providing limited bus and coach services on strike days to provide road links for essential travel from a number of its stations into nearby neighbouring train networks where they can connect into other train operators' services.

The strike action has sparked protests in recent months. Credit: PA

Space on the buses will be limited. Anyone who does travel should expect to queue, plan for longer journeys and realise the service they join will be exceptionally busy, said Southern.

The company also advised people to work from home or remotely if they can, and to stagger journeys if they can't.

As well as the three days of strikes, Southern and Gatwick Express services will be severely disrupted every day until further notice due to the overtime ban.

What is the dispute over?

Aslef is opposed to driver-only trains, citing safety concerns as passenger numbers grow, and warning that in-cab monitors, allowing them to check when it is safe to close doors, do not always work.

What services are running across the Southern network?

The following services will operate as normal: Thameslink, Southeastern, South West Trains, London Midland and London Overground.

The Gatwick Express service will operate between London Victoria and Gatwick Airport every 30 minutes between approximately 05.00 and 22.00.

Passengers queue for trains to Gatwick Airport at London's Victoria Station last month. Credit: PA

As far as Southern Railway services are concerned, there will be a very limited peak-only service between Caterham and London Victoria (calling at Whyteleafe South, Whyteleafe, Kenley and Purley only).

These services are expected to be very busy and you should only travel if your journey is essential. No train services will operate on any other route.

What bus services are running instead?

Buses will operate as follows:

  • Hastings - Ashford: Calling at all stations
  • Lewes - Seaford: There will be no onward connections from Lewes and on strike days. Buses will operate to/from Lewes Bus Station and not the railway station.

For essential travel, a limited bus service will operate to provide a connection to London from/to the following stations:

  • Eastbourne: to and from Hastings (for Southeastern connections to and from London)
  • Bexhill: to and from Hastings (for Southeastern connections to and from London)
  • Uckfield and Crowborough: to and from Tunbridge Wells (for Southeastern connections to and from London)
  • Oxted: to and from Sevenoaks (for Southeastern connections to and from London). Buses at Sevenoaks will stop at the bus stop on London Road - adjacent to Tubs Hill shops
  • East Grinstead: to and from Gatwick Airport (for Gatwick Express/Thameslink connections to and from London)
  • Horsham: to and from Dorking (for South West Trains connections to and from London)
  • Tattenham Corner: to and from Epsom (for South West Trains connections to and from London)
  • Chichester: to and from Havant (for South West Trains connections to and from London)

Are Southern train drivers staging any more strikes?

Yes. Aslef members will strike again on January 24, 25 and 27.

There will empty departure boards again this week. Credit: PA

What does Southern Rail say?

Angie Doll, Southern's passenger service director, said: "We are deeply sorry for the unnecessary and unwarranted disruption this dispute is causing.

"The unions' response is utterly disproportionate, causing misery to 300,000 passengers a day across the South East and untold damage to the regional economy."

What does Aslef say?

General secretary Mick Whelan said: "We are taking a longer term view of this trade dispute.

"The company has not been prepared to move - it is simply going through the motions, turning up at Acas and telling us that it intends to impose driver-only operation.

"We remain committed to a negotiated settlement, as was reached with ScotRail, but it is difficult to negotiate with people who are not prepared to be flexible."

And the Government?

Chris Grayling says the unions have been fighting against something they're already doing. Credit: PA

Last month, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said he is "mad" about the ongoing Southern rail strike, but insisted he can't "order" train drivers back to work, and that if he had "the power" to do so he "would do it".

He said: "The reason that this strike has arisen is because we are investing as a nation £2 billion in new trains so we can phase out the older trains.

"The new trains use a technology that controls the doors from the driver's cab. Already about half the trains on the network are operating like this. The unions have been fighting against something they're already doing."