Catching Gatwick trains

By | Category: Travel rumblings
Gatwick Exress train

the old style Gatwick Express trains. Can we have the old style service when trains ran?

As we enter yet another week of strikes on the Southern Rail and Gatwick Express services, visitors leaving and entering the UK via Gatwick must be wondering why the impasse between the rail unions and the operating company hasn’t been resolved.

It seems like the problems have going on for the best part of a year but December on the rails is about as cheery as finding out that Santa doesn’t exist or that the last drop of booze at the Christmas party is a ghastly sweet syrupy gloop that everyone else has avoided.

Last week commuters tried to charter a train service only to be told that no drivers or trains were available. Visitors arriving at Gatwick might think we are a third-world country or that the notorious seventies have returned when union relations were so bad we were called the sick man of Europe.

Yesterday afternoon, Southern sent out an e-mail saying “…We advise you not to travel…In addition Southern and Gatwick Express services will continue to be severely disrupted every day until further notice due to ASLEF’s ongoing overtime ban.” There may be a London Victoria- Gatwick service every thirty minutes but don’t rely on this: check first

That offers no cheer at all in a season where we like to think about goodwill to all men and women!

This week both drivers and guards are on strike so passengers flying into or out of Gatwick should either cough up for expensive taxis, book Uber or Gett, use a car seat sharing service like BlablaCar or join a car club like Zipcar. There is the National Express coach service and Thameslink trains but these will be busy so be prepared!

You could hire a car, use your own but that is about it. And if you do get away on that Christmas break you may have problems on your return because the strikes will start again just after Christmas and run into January.

As I have written before, passengers couldn’t really care which party is to blame; they want a service and at the moment they have some unreliable concoction that beggars belief.

Is it time the airport suggested running its own railway system again? Is it time to fire all the staff in both the unions and the railway company and start again? Is it time to grass the railway line over and issue everyone with roller skates? Or dig a six foot deep trench under the lines, flood it and provide canal transport to London? Should, airlines give notice that they will decamp to some other airport unless the impasse is broken? Will the airport provide a helicopter service into Battersea Heliport so that passengers can be assured that the can make their flights? Should Gatwick close and everything centre on Heathrow, Stanstead, Luton and London City?  Is this a plot by Heathrow to get Gatwick ruled out of any expansion plans? Or a growth strategy by taxi drivers to multiply their business? Should employers sue the rail company, the unions or the government for disruption to their businesses. Should commuters and travellers start a class action for non-delivery of services?

Is the government and the Department for Transport doing anything of any use? Chris Grayling, the Transport Secretary says this morning that he has invited the unions to talks but they haven’t answered. the drivers union, ASLEF, says that Southern took court action instead of meeting the union. How is the traveller expected to find out the truth in this morass of accusations?

How much longer can this daft state of affairs continue? Visitors, passengers and commuters feel that nothing is happening to resolve this long-running mess. It’s time they were shown that somebody was attempting to resolve this.


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