LONDON: British commuters faced the worst travel chaos on Tuesday as train drivers went on a strike which is considered to be the worst rail disruption that Britain has never seen in decades.
Southern Rail, which operates trains between England’s south coast and London, informed of severe disruption and cancelled all of its 2,284 services after workers launched three days of industrial action.
According to reports around 1,000 drivers are on strike, which will affect almost 300,000 passengers in the people who travel to London’s Gatwich Airport.
The drivers began a 48-hour walkout on Monday and planned a further 24-hour walkout for Friday and six days on action in January, which has not been decided yet.
The strike is about “driver-only operated trains” which means there would be no guard to assist and open and close the doors of the train for the passengers.
A point raised by the Union leaders about the safety and possible job losses, though the company affirmed that the number of staff will not be affect.
Passengers on routes from Brighton and other key commuter towns in southern England have been experiencing months of disruption to the services and series of walkouts that began in the April.
Govia Thameslink Railway’s owner started the latest strike after he lost a legal bid to halt the action.
Britain’s railways have once experienced this he level of shutdown in 1994 when signal workers went on a strike.
Southern Rail released a consolatory words, said it was “sincerely sorry” that trains were at a standstill.
“These strikes are wholly unjustified and we must find a way forward,” a company spokesman said, adding that it had invited union representatives to talks aimed at resolving the issue.
Mick Whelan the general secretary of the train drivers’ union Aslef, said the union was prepared to negotiate but “it’s up to the company, and the government, to be flexible and end the misery of commuters.”
Chris Grayling, Britain’s transport minister called it a “completely futile, pointless strike”.
Further he told BBC’s Radio 4 that he did not agree with the action but: “I don’t have the power to order people back to work. This is a lawful strike.”
The rail walkout comes after Post Office workers also voted Monday to strike in a row over job cuts, closures and pensions.
Next week, the five days of strike is being carried by the Communication Workers Union which will affect the courier services and shipping of goods while the busiest period, Christmas, is just around the corner.