Rail union ‘decided not to strike’ to make sure it didn’t disrupt Brighton Pride

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A rail union made the decision not to strike this weekend in order to avoid impacting Brighton’s Pride celebrations.

It comes after the much-criticised Southern Rail warned of transport chaos for those attending the event this weekend, which is one of the biggest Prides in the UK.

Southern Rail blamed an industrial dispute with union workers for a reduced service ahead of Pride, warning of service disruption due to “continuing train crew shortages”, engineering works and the “large attendance expected at Pride”.

Southern said some services may be cancelled with a further-reduced service over the weekend, both to and from Brighton – though other rail links in the area will be unaffected.

But the RMT Trade Union, which is at the heart of a dispute with Southern, rubbished suggestions that it was in any way to blame for Southern’s chronic infrastructure problems.

RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said in a statement to PinkNews: “The RMT made the decision not to take industrial action this weekend so that we could fully support Brighton Pride.

“If Southern are advising the public not to travel by train because they cannot provide a service that meets passengers’ expectations, please know it is due to Southern’s incompetence and poor management and has nothing to do with the RMT.

“It really is simply wrong for Southern to put people off from attending Brighton Pride by train and blame their staff for an inadequate service.”

RMT will have a float in the parade.

Pride organisers said that the issues with Southern would not have a great impact on the event, as other rail services serving Brighton are still operating as normal.

A spokesperson for Brighton Pride told PinkNews yesterday: “After many planning meetings with Southern, the Sussex Police and other agencies throughout the year, we are disappointed at the negative tone of [Southern’s claims].

“We were under the impression that additional services and contingency plans were in place by Southern and over a week ago we were given reassurance by them that they would provide the best possible service for visitors in to the city and they would treat it as a priority.

“Pride continues to remain neutral in the dispute Southern have with the RMT and indeed Mick Cash the General Secretary of the RMT has given us a message of support and solidarity from the union who will be marching in the Pride parade on Saturday.

“Obviously Southern are not the only rail operator in to Brighton.

“Thameslink trains run at least twice hourly from London’s St Pancras and Blackfriars stations, National Express run regular coaches from London Victoria and we understand that Gatwick Express trains are running normally from London Victoria.”

Southern’s Brighton Area Manager Paul Wyborn blamed rail union workers for the disruption, saying: “The industrial action and the dispute with the RMT is continuing to cause misery to people’s lives.

“For our part, we’re sorry that we are unable to provide a full service that meets our passengers’ expectations.

“We’ll do the best we can with the resources we have available but the trains that do run will be exceptionally busy.

“That’s why we are regrettably advising people to try and find another way of getting in and out of Brighton to beat the crowds and unavoidable queues.”

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has previously called for Govia Thameslink to be stripped of its Southern franchise, with inner suburban rail services handed to the publicly-owned Transport for London.