Seaford is set to lose its Southern train services for the second time in 2016 ‘until further notice’.
Rail operator Govia Thameslink Railway brought in a temporary timetable back in July, cancelling hundreds of services a day including most of those running between Lewes and Seaford, with bus services operating instead.
The changes were due to staff shortages during a dispute with the RMT union over proposals to change the role of conductors to on-board supervisors across the Southern network.
The full compliment of trains were restored on the Seaford branch line at the end of September.
But now train drivers’ union ASLEF has joined the dispute, calling several strikes and an end to overtime working from Tuesday December 6.
The company has confirmed that from that date ‘until further notice’ no train services will run between Brighton and Seaford, with buses operating from Lewes to Seaford instead.
Lewes MP Maria Caulfield, who represents Seaford and Newhaven, said: “The decision by Southern to offer no service at all on strike days to all of the stations in my constituency is unacceptable. “There are also thousands of people in Seaford, Southease, Bishopstone and Newhaven in my constituency with no rail service on any days between now and mid-January.
“This is completely unacceptable for my constituents, the businesses in my towns and those who are at risk of losing their jobs because we are being held hostage in Sussex by the behaviour and actions of Southern Rail, the RMT and ASLEF unions, and the Government.”
“I am supporting Caroline Lucas MP in her urgent question to ministers this afternoon and want answers as to what the Government is going to do on this and no more excuses, we need the Government to take action and step in to resolve these issues once and for all.”
Alex Foulds, Southern director, said: “Regrettably, because of this wholly unnecessary and unjustified industrial action, there will be severe and significant disruption on our network from next Tuesday and customers are advised that stations will be incredibly busy.
“If passengers can make alternative travel arrangements they should, and if they don’t have to travel they shouldn’t. If the drivers’ strikes go ahead, there will be no services on Southern and customers should not attempt to travel.
“We’re doing everything we can to stop the drivers’ strike and that’s why we a seeking an injunction in the High Court next week. This industrial action is a clearly co-ordinated and cynical manoeuvre by the unions to bring yet further travel misery to passengers as well as having a detrimental impact on the regional economy when it least needs it.
“If the unions are listening to passengers then they will call off all industrial action now and give hardworking commuters and their families their lives back.”
The RMT is holding three day strikes starting Tuesday December 6 and Saturday December 31, and a two-day strike starting Monday December 19.
Meanwhile members of ASLEF are due to walkout on Tuesday December 13 and Wednesday December 14, Friday December 16, and from Monday January 9 to Friday January 14.
GTR has applied to the High Court to stop the ASLEF strikes, with the hearing likely to be heard next week.
Mick Cash, general secretary at the RMT, said: “It is crystal clear that the responsibility for sorting the total chaos on Southern rests with the Transport Secretary himself.
“He has repeatedly refused to meet with the trade unions to map out a way forwards.”
He added: “As general secretary of Britain’s specialist transport union I meet with ministers on a regular basis and it is frankly absurd that Chris Grayling has refused point blank to meet with us while the Southern Rail dispute, which he has the power to settle as it is a direct management contract with the Government, rages on.
“Running our railways by central Government diktat is a recipe for disaster.”
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