There is finally some good news for Southern Rail commuters after the rail firm restored a full service this week for the first time since July.
Members of train drivers’ union, Aslef, were due to strike for three days but the walkouts were called off and a full timetable relaunched yesterday (Tuesday).
It means commuters are now able to travel from Tring and Berkhamsted to stations such as Shepherd’s Bush and East Croydon, once an hour, throughout the day.
In July, 2016, Southern suspended its weekday services between Milton Keynes Central and East Croydon.
It later reintroduced some trains on this route but because of ongoing crisis talks, commuters have been without a Southern service since before Christmas.
Will Gore tweeted to say: “Glory be! A Southern service from Berkhamsted station. First one since mid December.”
On its website, Southern said: “From Tuesday 24 January onwards, Southern are planning to run a full train service.
“Members of the RMT union, employed by Southern, are still undertaking industrial action by refusing to work overtime.
“Southern do not expect the RMT action to have any impact on services.”
Aslef’s strike days were planned for yesterday, today and Friday but the union agreed to suspend the action if the company agreed to “engage in intensive talks”.
Southern Rail wants to bring in driver-only-operated (DOO) trains which would see the driver – rather than the conductor –opening and closing the doors.
Currently, a third of UK services already work that way – it’s been used for 30 years and the rail safety regulator says it is safe. But unions disagree because they believe on-board conductors have a better view of the doors and can prevent people getting trapped.
The clashes have also been about jobs as the railway is very expensive to run.
Taxpayers fork out about £4.8billion each year, and most people are not even regular users of trains.
One obvious way to reduce costs is to cut staff and the unions believe that the spread of driver-only-operated (DOO) trains is part of a wider plan to slash jobs.
Have you been affected? Has the reinstated service made your journey easier? Email your views to firstname.lastname@example.org