More than £7,000 raised by Southern commuters for legal action against the government
Southern commuters are taking matters into their own hands after more than a year of frustration over delayed and cancelled trains across the Southern Rail network by attempting to launch a judicial review into the government’s handling of Southern Rail.
The Association of British Commuters has set up a crowdfunding campaign to fund the legal action, setting an initial target of £10,000 to get things moving. The cost of the review’s initial stages is estimated to be £25,000.
On its crowdfunding page, the group said travelling is “a daily misery” and added: “Barely a day goes by that we don’t hear of someone losing their job or relocating their home and family due to the sheer impossibility of living with this daily catastrophe.”
The group added: “The Association of British Commuters is seeking legal advice from Devonshires Solicitors LLP and specialist counsel on the options for issuing a judicial review of the government’s handling of the Southern Rail franchise.
“We are looking for £25,000 to cover the initial stages of the judicial review. Please donate and help us bring the government to account, protect the health, safety and livelihood of thousands of rail users, and change your future commute for the better.
“We have set an ultimate target of £25,000, which is an estimation of the costs required to investigate the claim and make an application for permission to initiate the review.
“Our initial target of £10,000 is intended to fund a full legal review of all the material, resulting in comprehensive legal advice on the way forward. Any amount over that will go towards drafting the grounds and issuing the application itself.
“If our application for permission is successful – an enormous step in itself – we will then launch a further fundraiser for the second stage.”
This comes days ahead of strike action by RMT union members that will again disrupt thousands of commuters’ journeys on Wednesday and Thursday.
A spokesman for Southern, which is operated by Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), said: “We have every sympathy for passengers who are being very patient in the face of this unwarranted and futile disruption caused by the RMT union. We share their frustration and all our efforts are focused on returning a normal service, which is why today we have restored over a third of the trains removed temporarily in July.
“Over the coming months we will leave no stone un-turned in our efforts to restore the Southern railway. We urge the RMT to join us in that mission, and put passengers first.”
The RMT general secretary, Mick Cash, said: “The guards action this week on Southern goes ahead as planned. RMT remains available for serious talks but GTR clearly have no interest in resolving the dispute and it is also clear that the government are propping them up financially and politically.
“Just a fraction of the £100m the GTR parent company is hoarding in profits would be enough to keep a guard on the Southern trains, keep the trains safe and resolve the dispute. It is absolutely right to call for the government to intervene and to hold those responsible for this continuing shambles to account.”