Train drivers’ union ASLEF has suspended a planned strike ballot in its dispute with Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), which has also pledged to restore services cut from its Southern services, beginning next week.
The result of a ballot of drivers on Southern and Gatwick Express, which both come under the GTR franchise, was due today.
GTR's franchise includes Gatwick Express services
An ASLEF spokesperson confirmed that the ballot has been ‘suspended’, although he did not provide further comment.
Transport Network understands that GTR had contacted the union to challenge the legality of the ballot. The company has already obtained two high court injunctions against ASLEF this year.
Separately, GTR has said it will restore 119 train services on Southern next Monday, nearly a third of the services it cut under a temporary timetable implemented in July.
It has said it will restore the remaining services to its timetable ‘incrementally in the coming weeks’.
Charles Horton, GTR’s chief executive, said: ‘We know how difficult life has been for our passengers recently and we are sincerely sorry. Our aim has been to bring back as much of the timetable as quickly as we could and for several weeks we've had 5th September as our target to begin the reinstatement of trains.
‘We're pleased that we can restore a large chunk of our train timetable for our passengers on this date but we will not be satisfied until the full timetable is running, and running in a punctual way people can rely on.’
The company has not responded to Transport Network’s request for information on its staffing levels and whether it can fill rosters in normal circumstances. Previously the company said services were disrupted due to ‘abnormal levels of train crew sickness’, which had been linked to the long-running industrial disputes with unions.
GTR still faces two strikes in separate disputes next week – by station staff across its franchise and by conductors on Southern Railway.