Image copyright EPA

The latest strike by Southern train drivers is under way, the first of six day-long stoppages planned in January.

Only 16 trains will run, instead of 2,242 timetabled on a normal weekday.

About 200 bus and coaches will ferry passengers from eight Southern stations to those run by other operators.

The strike involves about 1,000 train drivers in the Aslef union and “a few” in the RMT union. Southern warned commuters not to attempt to travel unless their journey was “essential”.

Southern strike: Live updates

What’s the Southern rail strike about?

Union members also plan to walk out on Wednesday and Friday, and on 24, 25 and 27 January, in an ongoing row about driver-only-operated (DOO) trains.

Southern advised people to work from home if they could. It warned anyone who did travel to “expect to queue, plan for longer journeys and realise the service will be exceptionally busy”.


Transport firms across the south east have provided 200 buses and coaches, to link “key” Southern stations to those of other operators.

  • Eastbourne – Hastings
  • Bexhill – Hastings
  • Uckfield and Crowborough – Tunbridge Wells
  • Oxted – Sevenoaks
  • East Grinstead – Gatwick Airport
  • Horsham – Dorking
  • Tattenham Corner – Epsom
  • Chichester – Havant

Southern also plans rail replacement buses between Hastings and Ashford and between Lewes and Seaford.

Its only trains will be a “very limited peak-only service” between Caterham, Surrey and London Victoria, calling at Whyteleafe, Kenley and Purley. Southern said drivers on that route “were not balloted and not involved in this dispute”.

Gatwick Express has a reduced half-hourly service. A regular timetable is planned for Thameslink, Southeastern, South West Trains and Great Western.

Change ‘unsafe’

Southern said it had completed its “modernisation”, with three-quarters of services now running as DOO, and conductors converted into “on-board supervisors” who no longer operated doors.

Unions say the change is unsafe, and have listed several services which they say have run without them.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Southern network has been crippled by industrial action since April

Analysis by BBC transport correspondent Richard Westcott

It’s Southern today, but who’s next?

This row centres around the ongoing introduction of driver-only controlled trains, and it’s an issue that’s going to keep rearing up across the country.

Merseyside could be next – they’ve just ordered new trains that won’t have traditional guards on board and the unions are fighting it.

Other rail lines could follow.

The unions, the government and Southern know that whoever “wins” this one gets to set the rules for future rail franchises.

There have been calls for ministers to step in and terminate Southern’s contract.

But it’s hard to see how that would resolve the somewhat binary sticking point. You either have a guard on board every single service, trained to close the doors, or you don’t.


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Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-38562442

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