GTR LAUNCHES LEGAL ACTION TO ENABLE OPERATION OF NEW 12-CAR TRAINS ON GATWICK EXPRESS
Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) announces that it has issued proceedings at the High Court to seek an injunction to enable the operation of new 12 car train services on Gatwick Express. This follows the refusal of drivers, at the instruction of the ASLEF Union, to drive the first two services that had been due to operate in 12 car formation over the past ten days.
Gatwick Express services presently operate with either 5 or 10 carriages, but with the introduction of brand new trains this will increase to either 8 or 12 carriages over the next two months. The new trains offer major benefits to passengers including increased capacity and reliability, a more comfortable travelling environment, WiFi and wider doors to assist disabled passengers and those travelling with luggage.
ASLEF is opposed to the introduction of the new trains in 12 car formation, arguing that this amounts to an extension of “driver-only-operation” because the doors on the new services are operated by the driver aided by CCTV, rather than a conductor. This is despite the fact that the driver operates the doors on Gatwick Express already, and has done for 17 years, since 1999. Furthermore, the exact same rolling stock already operates in driver-only-operation in 12 car formation on the same infrastructure, operating as Thameslink services.
Commenting on the decision to issue proceedings, a GTR spokesperson commented:
“We launch legal action very reluctantly, but we have been left with no choice because of the position adopted by the ASLEF Union. Drivers have safely operated the doors on Gatwick Express services for many years so passengers will find their refusal to drive the new trains baffling. We will take any reasonable steps we can to defend the interests of our customers and maintain the Gatwick Express service with the new 12 car trains, which will increase capacity and reliability and give a more comfortable travelling environment for passengers.”
Following the application for an injunction, this matter is likely to be considered at a hearing at the High Court in the coming days.
To date, the refusal of drivers to operate the new 12 carriage services has led to the cancellation of two services. 12 car trains are due to make up 50% of all Gatwick Express services by June, so this legal action is necessary at this stage to ensure the roll-out of these services over the next couple of months is possible without major disruption to services.