Southern Rail Strike – Off the Rails

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Beyond a bit of catharsis, I take no particular delight in being compelled to return to the subject of the sorry state of Southern Rail. As I’ve mentioned in these pages before, the company’s route from London to Brighton is one I venture onto regularly to reach the Coinslot offices, so the ongoing debacle is a knife particularly close to my heart.

This week, the whole escapade seems to have been turned up a notch. As you will have seen, Brighton’s leisure operators have been speaking with great passion about the situation. And elsewhere, one of the striking drivers penned an editorial for the Guardian.

Now, I’m a believer in people’s right to strike, but what I don’t believe in is extended industrial action based on flimsy arguments. The driver writing in the Guardian positioned this as a fight about safety – that having driver-only trains with no guards would create dangerous situations for passengers.

The counter argument to this is almost too obvious to mention. The Thameslink service from Brighton to Bedford that runs on exactly the same track as Southern Rail has had driver-only trains for years! Do you remember all that shocking press coverage about the hundreds of deaths and injuries on this line? No, because it hasn’t happened.

And the real kicker? Thameslink is run by the same company (Govia) as Southern! How can the conductors and drivers refusing to work possibly think that anyone will take their arguments seriously when their colleagues doing practically the same job having been getting on for years without issue?

Now I’ve let off steam – a crucial reference to the amusements industry on the south coast. It’s time to speak out and, proverbially of course, smack these two selfish delinquents – Southern Rail and the unions – hard.

The coastal arcade industry has enough tough elements to live with in their day-to-day activities – having your businesses and employees jobs put at risk by outside parties is not acceptable.

It seems, in this instance, the only business that matters is Southern Rail, and the only jobs that matter are the train guards.

Well, that’s not the case for the entire south coast. It’s not the case for any of our amusement businesses whose families work tirelessly to keep their companies afloat; nor for our cities and towns current and future prosperity. It’s simply not right that a business like Southern feed off our economy and put it in jeopardy when it wants to cut costs – and it’s certainly not right that the unions can jeopardise ordinary people’s jobs for a dispute that cannot be sustained by the facts.

Isn’t it time that both Southern Rail and the unions are forced to recognise the damage they are causing?

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