Southern Rail passengers warn of ‘tragedy’ if more strikes go ahead

Photo credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
Photo credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
A South Western Railway train at Waterloo

Relief for Portsmouth commuters as this week’s South Western Railway strike is called off

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The government has been warned that a ‘tragedy’ will happen if it does not tackle the ‘appalling’ health and safety risks faced by Southern Rail passengers.

Lawyers representing travellers have written to the Department for Transport asking if it carried out any risk analysis ahead of strikes by the RMT union.

The Association of British Commuters added that it wanted to know at what point the DfT will consider the risks to be sufficiently serious to terminate the franchise.

The group, which is considering legal action over the government’s handling of the Southern franchise, gave witness reports of incidents across the Southern network during the recent disruption to services.

These included reports of violence at Brighton station, dangerous overcrowding and mass panic in crowds, mass rushes along overcrowded platforms to board trains in the case of last-minute announcements, a child left abandoned on a platform due to overcrowding, and illness and incapacity brought on in the vulnerable, pregnant, elderly and disabled.
Reports have also emerged of at least two incidents of trains going through stations without making planned stops during the course of last week’s RMT strike, said the group.
It produced a graphic showing a packed platform, with the message: ‘It is not a case of if a tragedy might happen but when.’
The move came as members of the RMT staged the final day of a three-day strike in the bitter dispute over the role of conductors.