There will be no trains today (December 16) on the Uckfield Line. No replacement buses will be provided.
Hopes for an early end to the dispute affecting the Southern franchise evaporated yesterday afternoon when talks between drivers’ union ASLEF and the company which runs Southern broke up without agreement.
Driver strikes on Tuesday and Wednesday also paralysed the Uckfield Line with services on days with no strikes being reduced because of an overtime ban.
Doors remain open
ASLEF said after yesterday’s talks broke up that there was no progress but its door remained open for further talks.
Nick Brown, Chief Operating Officer of Govia Thameslink Rialway (GTR), Southern’s parent company, said:
“We’re deeply disappointed, as our passengers will be, that ASLEF has been unable to accept our proposals and that we cannot find a way forward to end this dispute with the drivers’ union at this stage.
“We put a practical offer on the table yesterday (Wednesday) for the union to consider overnight with the aim of getting tomorrow’s strike called off.
“Today (Thursday) we explored a number of initiatives with them. We’re pleased that the union did acknowledge to us today they welcomed our attempts to find solutions. But, regrettably, they simply will not shift from their entrenched position and rigid opposition to our modernisation plans.
Union wants ‘to go back’
“Once again, ASLEF want to go back and not look forward.
“Passengers and businesses are being held to ransom by the unions’ wholly unjustified and unnecessary industrial action. The real victims of these strikes are passengers who simply want to receive the train service they deserve to get them to work and home again.
“ASLEF claims drivers closing doors is inherently unsafe. The Office of Rail and Road and the Rail Safety & Standards Board have stated that drivers closing doors is a safe mode of operation. For 30 years trains have been running up and down the country’s railways this way and today over a third of the national train network runs this way.
“So the public will be simply perplexed that the union is maintaining such an entrenched position given drivers being fully in charge of the train is so commonplace today.
Unprecented industrial action
“We’re sincerely sorry that commuters’ work and family lives are being punished with this unjustified and unprecedented industrial action.
“The unions must stop the pain and suffering blighting passengers and commerce. We will continue with our plans to modernise our railway and the services we offer customers. We urge the union to think again and work with us and move forward together.
“Our door remains open.”
Christian Fowler has emailed to say: I have sympathy with Uckfield train passengers hit by the strike. Are they aware that by catching the 231 Seaford and District bus to Etchingham, they can use Southeastern services? There are connections that make it possible to get to London before 900 and leaving after 500. Not perfect but fairly painless way to get to work on no trains dates. As an Etchingham resident, all we want is people to make better use of our bus which we believe is once again under threat.