Sussex

Gatwick Express drivers' dispute set for High Court

New Gatwick Express train Image copyright Gatwick Express
Image caption New 12-car trains are due to make up 50% of all Gatwick Express services by June

A rail company is to take legal action against train drivers after their union refused to drive the new, longer Gatwick Express trains.

Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) said Aslef members had refused to drive the first two services that were due to operate in a 12-car formation.

Aslef has said it never reached an agreement over the new trains and has balloted members for industrial action.

The case is likely to be considered at the High Court in the coming days.

Earlier this month, a train was driven empty in the dispute, and GTR said two services had been cancelled to date.

'Baffling refusal'

A GTR spokesman said the company was taking legal action reluctantly but had been left with no choice.

"Drivers have safely operated the doors on Gatwick Express for many years, so passengers will find their refusal to drive the new trains baffling."

He added the company would take any reasonable steps to defend customers' interests and maintain the 12-car trains, which increase capacity on the line.

Aslef spokesman Simon Weller said the union was bemused and surprised by the legal action but was taking advice from its lawyers.

He said: "This isn't just about 10 or 12-carriage trains. This is about we haven't got an agreement for this new method of working."

Mr Weller said the union opposed expansion of driver-only operated services and "more and more trains without guards".

He said concerns included the security and safety of passengers and accessibility for groups including the disabled and lone women travellers.

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