After a week of rail chaos, the Transport Secretary gets an early Christmas present from commuters [TWEETS]

With the chaos on beleaguered Southern Rail continuing, angry commuters voiced their dissatisfaction with Transport Secretary Chris Grayling. On Thursday 15 December, passengers blockaded Victoria station in London, and then marched on the Department for Transport. And the loudest message they sent to Grayling may not be the early Christmas present he was hoping for: “resign!”

Southern Rail: breaking the law?

On Tuesday 13 December, the Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen (ASLEF) Union began three days of industrial action against Southern Rail. The dispute is over Southern Rail’s plans to make driver-only operation (DOO) trains the standard across its network. This, trade unions claim, would compromise passenger safety.

As The Canary previously reported, DOO trains would see the scrapping of guards across nearly all Southern Rail services in Surrey and Sussex. This could mean the loss of 400 guards on trains. Also, disabled passengers would have to book support 48 hours in advance to get on and off trains. And the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT), Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), and the Association of British Commuters (ABC) say this would be breaking the law. The groups claim it is in breach of the Equality Act 2010.

The strike action by ASLEF has caused chaos on Southern Rail routes. Also, to further add to the mess, it was announced on Thursday that talks between the union and the government had ended without an agreement being reached.

Commuters and workers, united

And it seems that some commuters are supporting the ASLEF strike:

Even fierce critic of the union’s actions, LBC radio host Nick Ferrari, appeared to be converted after hearing the testimony of a train conductor.

But the ABC has always supported both the RMT and ASLEF in their actions. The protest on Thursday was to demonstrate passengers’ frustration at both Southern Rail and Grayling. And the ABC also delivered three demands to the Transport Secretary:

  • Urgent intervention into the industrial dispute.
  • Fully independent public inquiry into the collapse of Southern Rail.
  • Urgent response from the DfT to ABC crowdsourced questions.

The ABC also said that if Grayling will not accept accountability for the crisis, it believes he should immediately resign. As well as this demand, the commuters also gave Grayling another early Christmas present. A model train set:

Grayling: running out of track?

In a statement, the ABC said:

The protest urge[d] the honourable engagement of the government in the dispute at a time when we are suffering the complete shutdown of travel in the south. Most disturbing of all are the reasons behind the unprecedented level of industrial action… we demand that the Secretary of State for Transport not only intervenes, but does so openly and transparently.

Grayling is looking more and more embattled as the chaos on Southern Rail drags on. But the issue of DOO trains is not just a problem on the Southern Rail franchise. Rail North also has plans to introduce DOO across their network. As does Abellio ScotRail. The crisis, however, and passengers’ and workers’ fury, runs deeper than this. With ticket prices set to go up by 1.9% in England, Scotland and Wales from January 2017, privatised train services are looking increasingly rocky. Grayling may have had an early Christmas present from commuters, in the form of the call for him to go. But will he send a gift in return, and actually resign?

Get Involved!

– Support DPAC.

– Rail users who’ve suffered because of Southern Rail can contact ABC via [email protected].

– Sign the petition to renationalise Southern Rail.

– Support Bring Back British Rail, campaigning for renationalisation.

Featured image via Flickr/FreeStockPhotos

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us

Comments are closed