Commuters crowdfund £26,000 to launch legal challenge against DfT over Southern Rail crisis

Rebecca Smith
Passengers have reached the end of their tether after ongoing Southern Rail troubles
Passengers have reached the end of their tether after ongoing Southern Rail troubles

A fed up group of commuters has gone further than the average Londoner in an effort to tackle their travel delays and disruptions.

The Association of British Commuters, a pressure group created after months of ongoing turmoil on Southern Rail, set up a crowdfunding website for a challenge of the Department for Transport's handling of the situation.

This morning at the 5am deadline it had surpassed a “stretch” target of £25,000, after an initial £10,000 goal was hit within days. The final total raised was £26,290 pledged by 1,331 people.

One of the group’s founders, Summer Dean, said: “This campaign belongs to every single person who has stood on a dangerously overcrowded platform, for every person who has lost out on family time, for those who have had pressures at work or at school, for every person that has been unable to use the network because of this ongoing rail crisis and for everyone in between.”

The group is seeking legal advice from Devonshires Solicitors and specialist counsel on the options for issuing a judicial review of the government’s handling of the Southern Rail crisis.

Co-founder of The Association of British Commuters Emily Yates said they would start another crowdfunding “if the court gives permission for a judicial review”.

A DfT spokesman said: "We have responded to correspondence from lawyers acting on behalf of the Association of British Commuters."

The crowdfunding was boosted after Southern’s controversial campaign, which tried to encourage passengers to target the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) with messages about the ongoing disruption.

Read more: Southern Rail bosses orders 'strike back posters' to be destroyed

An email later leaked from Southern bosses instructing all posters around the campaign to be destroyed following the backlash.

The commuters are braced for another set of strikes planned for next week, after the union rejected an ultimatum from Southern owner Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR). GTR wants trains to be driver-operated only, which would mean some services would be without a second member of staff. The RMT says this would be a risk to passenger safety.

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