Govia Thameslink Go To High Court

The company that runs Southern Rail and the Gatwick express are heading to the High Court today - to try to stop a strike by drivers in a dispute over longer, driver-only trains.

Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) will take a case to the High Court in London against the drivers' union Aslef.

Members of Aslef at Southern and Gatwick Express have voted by more than 4-1 to strike and by 95% for other forms of action. The turnout was 82%.

General secretary Mick Whelan said he welcomed the ``strong mandate'' from drivers.

GTR said it was disappointed with the result and will await notification from Aslef on what its plans may be.

A statement said: ``Any action would only heap more disruption on our passengers - passengers who have already been through two recent strikes by RMT union conductors.

``We have repeatedly tried to engage with Aslef on this but the union has refused to engage in any sort of meaningful dialogue. We urge them once more to sit down and talk to us.

``In the meantime, we have sought an injunction from the High Court against any industrial action that may result from this ballot. Aslef selected which drivers it balloted in a way that breaches the strict rules on balloting, and because it induced drivers to refuse to drive trains in advance of conducting the ballot, it cannot now lawfully ask them to take industrial action.

``We expect to hear the result of our injunction application in the next few days.''

The Rail, Maritime and Transport union said its train driver members at Southern and Gatwick Express have also voted for strikes and action short of a strike in the same dispute.

The RMT is also embroiled in a row with Southern over the role of conductors, which has led to strikes in recent weeks.

Unions are also protesting against Govia's plans to close more than 80 ticket offices across its franchises.