Driver shortage disrupts rail services

Author: By Peter Woodman, Press Association

First Capital Connect (FCC) was only able to run about half its normal
services on its Thameslink route which runs as far north of London as
Bedford to as far south as Brighton in Sussex.

The problem has been caused by the refusal of drivers to work voluntary
overtime in a row that has also hit services to such destinations as Luton,
St Albans, Gatwick airport and Haywards Heath.

An FCC spokesman said today that the company feared the disruption could
extend into next week although it was hopeful the matter could be resolved.

The disruption led to Transport Minister Chris Mole making an emergency
statement in the House of Commons yesterday.

He said the drivers’ action was “highly regrettable”, adding that passengers
were being “seriously inconvenienced” and urged all parties to resolve the
“unacceptable situation” as soon as possible.

Tory Anne Main, who demanded the statement and whose St Albans constituency
lies on the Thameslink route, said an emergency timetable cutting services
by 50% had brought “chaos” and given constituents a “miserable” journey to
the capital.

Shadow transport secretary Theresa Villiers also branded the drivers’ action
“irresponsible” and said it was not credible to believe the unions were not
giving “tacit” encouragement.

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