Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) will run longer Thameslink trains to and from Brighton during next month’s Pride celebrations, but management warns the decision by workers of ASLEF and RTM unions to strike, will affect the event.
Brighton and Hove Pride runs from Friday 4 to Sunday, August 6. Both rail unions have announced their workers will strike on August 1, 2 and 4 and there will be an overtime ban in place on other days.
GTR have plans to run more trains and additional carriages on Southern and Gatwick Express on Saturday, August 5, as well as the new, longer 12-carriage Thameslink trains running from London Bridge, Blackfriars and St Pancras to Brighton.
Southern’s Passenger Services Director Angie Doll said: “ASLEF has called three days of strikes in a deliberate move to cause maximum disruption for passengers. We’re deeply disappointed that it has chosen the week of Brighton and Hove Pride. We have been working very closely with the organisers to ensure that this year’s event is a resounding success despite the industrial action.
“We will make it our priority to run as many services to Brighton as we can.
“For ASLEF to be striking in protest against an offer to increase pay by 24% is simply mind-boggling. The vast majority of our passengers could only dream of such a generous pay award, so will understandably be as shocked and frustrated as we are.
“We absolutely need to modernise in order to increase capacity here on the most congested part of the UK’s network, where passenger numbers have doubled in as little as 12 years. That requires modernisation of infrastructure, trains and working practices. The trade unions must join us in that endeavour.”
Services over the Pride weekend are expected to be extremely busy during the main event and queuing systems will be in place. Everyone is advised to allow extra time to travel, especially at peak times on Saturday (5) and Sunday (6).
Visitors should check Southern’s website before they travel in case there are any short-notice alterations owing to disruption.
Paul Kemp, Director of Brighton and Hove Pride, said: “It’s a real concern that ASLEF and RMT are taking this action when people from all over the UK and the world are planning to visit Brighton and Hove for Pride, and to join our campaign to Stand Up To Hate Crime.
“Pride works throughout the year on planning with all public service agencies to deliver a safe event and I wrote to all parties involved in this dispute in May 2017 appealing for support over the Pride weekend. I’m appealing again for the unions to support their LGBT and minority allies and not to take this industrial action on the eve of Pride on Friday August 4th.
“The Pride weekend is a critical time for Pride’s community fundraising for local LGBT and HIV groups and charities, many of whom are struggling to continue providing their services following cuts to public funding. In the current climate of uncertainty it’s so important that we all come together to celebrate the great diversity of our City and stand up to all hate crime.”
Over the last three years Brighton & Hove Pride has raised and donated over £300,000 to local LGBT+/HIV organisations who provide effective frontline services to LGBT+ people in the city.
Groups who receive grants from monies raised by Pride in Brighton & Hove have signed and delivered a joint letter to both unions asking them to withdraw the threat to strike on Friday, August 4. Neither union has responded to their joint appeal.
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