More travel chaos for passengers as Southern Railway drivers launch strikes


Commutes are unpleasant enough, and now thanks to fresh strikes on Southern Railway they are set to get a lot worse for many people. Hundreds of thousands of passengers will be affected as train drivers go on strike, leading to the worst disruption in nearly two decades.

The operator's owners lost a legal bid to halt the walkout, which will mean many commuters will have to work from home, take time off, or attempt to drive themselves in.

Members of the drivers' union will strike on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday in a dispute over driver-only trains.

Southern Railway
(Jonathan Brady/PA)

Charles Horton, chief executive of Southern's parent company Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), confirmed there will be no services on strike days and "severe disruption" during an ongoing overtime ban.

The shutdown of Southern's services will be the worst disruption since the railways were hit by a lengthy strike by signal workers in the mid 1990s.

RMT drivers on Southern will also be on strike, while the guards will launch a fresh 48-hour walkout from next Monday, and a three-day stoppage from New Year's Eve.

GTR lost a legal bid in the High Court last week to stop the drivers' strikes, before also losing its appeal on Monday.

Southern Rail
(Jack Hardy/PA)

Three judges in the Court of Appeal backed High Court judge Sir Michael Burton's refusal to grant an injunction blocking what GTR called "unprecedented" strike action and argued would unlawfully restrict freedom of movement provisions under EU law.

Lord Justice Elias, Lord Justice Lewison and Lord Justice Lloyd Jones also said they were not prepared to grant an injunction.

Around 300,000 passengers travel on 2,242 Southern services every weekday, including busy commuter routes from Sussex to London Victoria.

They have suffered months of disruption because of the Aslef dispute and a separate row with the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union over changes to the role of guards, as well as staff shortages, staff sickness and other problems such as signal failures.

Aslef is also planning a week-long strike from January 9.