Southern Railway protesters deliver toy train set to department


Protesters have delivered a toy train set to the Department for Transport as they called for Chris Grayling to resign amid the continued disruption on Southern Railway.

Angry commuters first gathered at Victoria station to demonstrate their frustration at delays, cancellations and strikes wreaking havoc with their journeys to and from work.

Gathering on the main concourse they held aloft placards stating "DFT Fail" and "Enough Is Enough", before singing an alternative version of Jingle Bells entitled Commuter Hell.

Patrick Olszowski, who commutes from Brighton every day, told of his anger at not being able to see his four-day old baby son this week.

The 39-year-old business consultant described the service, for which he pays £5,000 for his annual ticket, as "diabolical".

He said: "We're being sacrificed for the miners' strike part two. This is Chris Grayling trying to break the unions and leaving the unions and the privatised rail companies to juke it out with one another.

"The Government have got a massive responsibility here and they are completely shirking that."

A healthcare worker who watched the protest said a colleague had been unable to get to work this week, resulting in cancelled assessments for psychiatric patients, while another protester told of sick people not making it to appointments because of a poor service.

The crowd marched a short distance to the Department for Transport where they called on the Government to immediately intervene in the long-running dispute, and for an independent inquiry into what they described as the "collapse of Southern Rail".

In a direct challenge to Mr Grayling they called for him to "act now" or resign.

The train set, which the protesters described as an early Christmas present, contained a warning of broken rails.

Another sticker, guaranteeing no conductors on board, was a direct reference to the ongoing dispute about driver-only trains. 

Standing outside the department protesters called for transparency, amid chants of "Mr Grayling, where are you?", and delivered a Christmas card to Rail Minister Paul Maynard.

Protesters vowed to return for further demonstrations "until this shameful Government sorts this shambolic train system out".