Labour Party members staged protests across West Sussex today aimed at pressuring the Government to act on the crisis engulfing the Southern rail network.
The RMT union held its eleventh strike of 2016 over the weekend in a long-running dispute with rail operator Govia Thameslink Railway over its plans to introduce driver-only operation on Southern services.
Train drivers’ union ASLEF joined the dispute in December and along with telling its members to stop working overtime held three strike days in December, and is due to hold another walkout from Monday January 9 to Saturday January 14.
Passengers have faced months of misery due to a combination of staff shortages, mismanagement, Network Rail track issues, operational incidents, and industrial action.
Timed on the day that rail fares went up nearly two per cent, members of the Arundel and South Downs Labour Party talked to commuters at Hassocks, Pulborough, and Arundel railway stations, renewing calls for the Government to strip GTR of its contract this morning (Tuesday January 3).
Labour member and Pulborough commuter Jane Mote said: “The majority commuters we spoke to have lost days at work and had their family lives severely disrupted because of Southern’s appalling service and backed our call for the Government to strip Southern of their franchise.
“They were pleased to see our protest and promised to write to their MPs to ask the government to put passengers first, not profit.”
Linda Taylor, a Labour spokesperson from Hassocks, added: “Commuters in Sussex are fed up and have been hit hard by Tory rail policies of raising fares.
“The effects of awarding franchises to companies like Southern have allowed them to profit at a time of running worsening services. In our region there’s a double blow with commuters having to pay more to a train company that can’t run trains on time and has broken the trust of its workforce with disastrous results for commuters.
“Labour says it’s time for a new approach. We should bring the railways into public ownership and put passengers before profits.”
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