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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Helen Coffey

Gatwick Express hit by latest train strike as drivers walk-out across five southern rail operators

Holidaymakers are the latest travellers to be hit by this week’s rail strikes, as Wednesday’s walk-out by train drivers who are members of the Aslef union involves those who work for the Gatwick Express.

Drivers employed by South Western Railway, Southern, Southeastern and the Isle of Wight’s Island Line are also striking for 24 hours, impacting commuters across the south of England.

No trains are running on the Gatwick Express, which usually offers a nonstop speedy service between London Victoria, Gatwick Airport and Brighton, for the entirety of 6 December.

Meanwhile, Southern is running no services today, other than a shuttle service calling at Gatwick Airport and London Victoria only.

Southeastern has cancelled all trains on Wednesday.

South Western Railway is operating an “extremely limited” service on a small number of lines between 7am-7pm.

Most of the network closed, but some services will run, such as London Waterloo to Basingstoke, Woking, Guildford and Feltham, and Basingstoke to Salisbury.

Bournemouth, Exeter, Portsmouth, Reading, Southampton, Staines, Windsor and Yeovil stations will see no services for the whole day.

It’s part of a week of walk-outs by train drivers designed to cause as much disruption as possible.

On Thursday, CrossCountry, Great Western Railway and the Heathrow Express will be hit by industrial action, with the latter two offering a reduced service between 7am-7pm, while the former will operate no trains that day.

On Friday, Northern and TransPennine Express have both cancelled all trains.

In addition, the Aslef union has called a ban on all overtime for the week up to and including Saturday, which is also affecting operators even on days when they are unaffected by strikes.

Aslef general secretary, Mick Whelan, said: “We are going on strike again not to inconvenience passengers, but to express our disgust at the intransigence of this government, and the bad faith shown by the private companies which employ us.”

Train drivers are demanding a no-strings pay increase followed by negotiations at a local level to modernise working practices – which will come at an additional price to the employers. Aslef says some drivers have not had a wage rise for five years.

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “It is disappointing that Aslef are targeting the public and hospitality businesses at the beginning of the festive period. Instead of going on strike, Aslef should be following in the footsteps of the other rail unions and giving their members a vote on this fair pay deal.”

A spokesperson for the Rail Delivery Group said: “This wholly unnecessary strike action called by the Aslef leadership will sadly disrupt customers and businesses ahead of the vital festive period.”

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