Festival-goers set for travel misery as trains cancelled during Brighton Pride

Thameslink's 'Trainbow' was painted to celebrate Pride, pictured in Brighton station in August 2022. Credit: Govia Thameslink Railway

There will be no trains running to and from Brighton during this year's Brighton Pride event, sparking a row between a rail operator and the train drivers' union.

Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) said it was with a "heavy heart" that Brighton services will not run on 5 August, meaning visitors will have to find alternative transport to get to the event.

The rail operator has blamed the disruption on an overtime ban by train drivers’ union Aslef.

A GTR statement said: "This has been an extremely difficult decision to make due to the major impact it will have on everyone planning to attend Pride, which GTR has proudly supported for many years."

Passengers will not be able to use rail services to get into or out of Brighton on Saturday 5. Credit: PA

"Unfortunately, between 31 July and 5 August, train operators have been notified of an overtime ban by the Aslef union.

"In this period, GTR will be running an amended timetable with far fewer services than usual.

"As a result, there will be significantly less capacity than is required for people to travel safely on the busiest day of Pride - Saturday 5 August."

However, GTR says services will still run on Friday 4 and Sunday 6 August.

"Every year, GTR runs a significantly enhanced service for Pride with additional late-night trains on Saturday evening.

"Keeping passengers and colleagues safe is the absolute priority and, following discussions with the council, police and emergency services, as well as our own risk assessments, GTR has very sadly concluded that it cannot safely run any services as it would be impossible to avoid severe overcrowding and present a considerable risk to passenger safety.

Aslef says its "outrageous" to blame the union for the disruption Credit: PA

Aslef has said it is "outrageous" to blame the union for the disruption, which they say is entirely the train company's making.

Mick Whelan, general secretary of Aslef, said: "The simple fact is that this company does not employ enough drivers to deliver the services it has promised passengers, businesses, and the Department for Transport it will run. That's why it is dependent on drivers working overtime.

"Overtime, of course, is entirely voluntary, not mandatory, and drivers are not working overtime because they are in dispute with a company which has not given them a pay increase for four years, since 2019, although the cost of living, as we all know, has soared in that time, up well into double digits.

"GTR has known the date of Brighton Pride and about its failure to employ enough drivers to deliver the services it should for a very long time.

"Yet they are only running trains to Three Bridges, just three-quarters of the way down the line, in a deliberate and malicious attempt to disrupt the LGBT+ day and then to blame Aslef for its own manifest failings. That is beneath contempt.

"The company should do the right thing, give our members, their drivers, the pay rise they deserve, and give the people of Brighton the train service they need.

"Not just on the Saturday of Brighton Pride, but on every day of every week and for the rest of this year."

Visitors will have to find alternative transport to get to Brighton Credit: PA

The Department for Transport has accused Aslef of targeting major cultural events at the "whim" of union leaders.

A spokesperson said: "It's completely disingenuous for Aslef to blame anyone but themselves for trains not being able to stop in Brighton on the Saturday of Pride weekend.

"If Aslef cared about impacting Pride, they could have called off their overtime ban at any point.

"The wellbeing of passengers and the capacity of local emergency services mustcome first and it would be nothing short of irresponsible to allow a limited number of trains to stop, knowing the expected number of passengers and the potential risk to their safety.

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