10/01/2017 11:01 GMT | Updated 10/01/2017 13:28 GMT

Jeremy Corbyn's Southern Rail Strike Comments Hit Wrong Nerve With Embattled Commuters

'That's reassuring for the 300,000 commuters facing utter travel chaos.'

Southern Rail commuters have rounded on Jeremy Corbyn after the Labour leader on Tuesday said he backed the strike action that has led to “dangerous overcrowding” on trains today, and has seen 10 months of travel chaos.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Corbyn said he supported the strike over driver-only trains and would join the picket line.

His comments did not go down well with affected commuters, one of whom said trains were so bad today she “couldn’t breathe”.

Some commenters on social media suggested Corbyn would “need protection” if he joined protesting drivers on the picket line.  

Aslef drivers went on strike Tuesday and will do so again on Wednesday and Friday. 

The action follows strikes by London Underground workers over job cuts that led to stations across London being closed on Monday. British Airways cabin crew also went on strike Tuesday, over pay, and further action is planned for Wednesday. 

Southern told passengers to travel only if it was essential, as no trains will run on strike days, while services on other days will be affected by a continuing ban on overtime.

Commuters responded to the advice as they routinely have during the long-running dispute. 

With only limited bus links from a small number of stations, Southern Rail advised people to make alternative arrangements wherever possible.

Southern is providing limited bus and coach services on strike days to provide road links for essential travel from nine of its stations into nearby neighbouring train networks where they can connect into other train operators’ services.

Space on the buses will be limited. Anyone who does travel should expect to queue, plan for longer journeys and realise the service they join will be exceptionally busy, Southern said.

The company also advised people to work from home or remotely if they can, and to stagger journeys if they can’t.

As well as the three days of strikes, Southern and Gatwick Express services will be severely disrupted every day until further notice due to a ban on overtime.

Angie Doll, Southern’s passenger service director, said: “Once again, we wish to remind our passengers not to attempt to travel unless it is absolutely necessary on this week’s strike days.

Yui Mok/PA Wire
Commuters protest over the Southern Rail strikes at Victoria Station in London in December last year

“There will also be significant disruption and hardship on the days Aslef is not on strike because of their overtime ban, especially on Thursday when trains will be out of position because of the strikes on each day either side.

“We are deeply sorry for the unnecessary and unwarranted disruption this dispute is causing.

“The unions’ response is utterly disproportionate, causing misery to 300,000 passengers a day across the South East and untold damage to the regional economy.”

Aslef members will also strike on January 24, 25 and 27.

General secretary Mick Whelan said: “We are taking a longer term view of this trade dispute.

“The company has not been prepared to move - it is simply going through the motions, turning up at Acas and telling us that it intends to impose driver-only operation.”We remain committed to a negotiated settlement, as was reached with ScotRail, but it is difficult to negotiate with people who are not prepared to be flexible.”

Meanwhile, members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union at Arriva Rail North will start voting on Tuesday whether to strike over pay, with the result due later this month.