New Year travelers in Britain are facing major disruptions as rail services in southern England were hit by a fresh strike and dozens of flights at London airports were cancelled due to thick fog.
Members of the Rail Maritime and Transport Union (RMT) announced they launched a three-day walkout on Southern Rail from Saturday morning.
The RMT union, which runs commuter services from the south coast into London, has been in a long-running dispute with Southern Rail over changes to the role of guards on driver-only operated trains.
Currently a guard is required on trains to open and close the doors for passengers. The train operator says on new trains, the driver should be able to do the job. Union leaders, however, complain that such a move would endanger passengers.
Southern Rail denounced the walkout as “pointless” action, which has severely disrupted services. It warned people that some New Year’s Eve services will finish early and called on them to check travel information.
“While we will do everything we can to get passengers where they want to go, we have to warn people that journeys may be disrupted and take longer than normal,” said Southern’s deputy chief operating officer lex Foulds.
“We are sorry that yet again passengers will have their plans disrupted by what is pointless industrial action,” he added.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling also denounced the unions for the “continuation of an old strike,” and called on them to “end this misery for rail users” by going back to the negotiating table.
There were also disruption in air travel, as a blanket of thick fog covered the South East and caused the cancellation of 40 flights at London’s Heathrow airport on Saturday.
The fog also caused disruption for planes at Gatwick and City airports, according to a spokeswoman for the airport who said a dozens of flights also delayed due to fog elsewhere in Europe.
Authorities advised passengers to check flights before they travel over the New Year period.