Long-suffering commuters are battling through yet another day of Southern rail strikes today.
And Southern owner Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) is trying to crack down on future industrial action: it's off to the High Court today in a bid to bring an end to at least some of the turmoil.
Members of train drivers' union Aslef have backed three days of action next week due to a row over driver-only operated (DOO) trains. But GTR's not having it, saying this would bring all Southern services to a grinding halt and breach customers' rights.
The strike currently going on is a separate one by Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union members over changes to the position of conductors, though Aslef also launched an indefinite ban on overtime. The combined action led to around 50 per cent of services getting the chop yesterday. RMT's strike is due to finish at 23:59 tomorrow.
Charles Horton, chief executive of GTR, said on the announcement of legal action: "Obviously we would prefer to resolve this directly with Aslef. We asked the union to withdraw the industrial action and to re-enter discussions but they refused to do so, which means that we now have no choice but to go to court."
He said: "Passengers now face the prospect of 40 days of continuous industrial action by Aslef, and, on top of months of travel misery they've already suffered, it is totally unacceptable."
In response, Mick Whelan, general secretary of Aslef, said: "Once again, we see that GTR/Southern is a company desperate to seek to prevent the voice of their put-upon employees being heard."
The drawn-out RMT dispute is set to wage on with more dates set for the run-up to Christmas.
Earlier this month, the government announced that over 84,000 Southern commuters will be offered the equivalent of one month's travel, in an attempt to appease those who have dealt with months of disruption. Season ticket holders will be able to apply for the compensation.
Strikes and resulting problems on Southern's lines will cost around £38m this year, according to estimates from GTR.
Southern rail strike dates:
- 00:01 Tuesday 6 December to 23:59 Thursday 8 December (RMT)
- 00:01 Tuesday 13 December to 23:59 Wednesday 14 December (Aslef)
- 00:01 Friday 16 December to 23:59 Friday 16 December (Aslef)
- 00:01 Monday 19 December to 23:59 Tuesday 20 December (RMT)
- 00:01 Monday 9 January to 23:59 Saturday 14 January (Aslef)