A frustrated commuter has designed a phone app which allows fellow passengers to express their feelings on the Southern Rail strikes.
Bradley Rees, an IT software developer from Worthing, made the Southern Fail Android app after experiencing first-hand the effects of the rail strikes since they began earlier this year.
The dispute about driver-only trains between Southern Rail operator Govia Thameslink Railway and conductors led by the RMT union has caused walkouts, high staff sickness and signal faults. Train drivers have now joined the strike action, which is taking place this week.
Mr Rees, 43, works at a company near Paddington, and has been getting a Southern train from Durrington to London Victoria stations for 18 months.
He said delays are a regular occurence, and prevent him from having quality time with his family.
“Delays and cancellations are happening almost daily now. My evening train stands a zero per cent chance of getting in on time. The service is in meltdown on a daily basis.
“It is affecting people’s families, it is affecting small businesses, and my daughter who gets the train to school has been affected.”
The Southern Fail app allows users to take a picture of themselves and make a poster expressing their concerns, in the style of a Southern Rail marketing poster commonly seen aboard trains. This can then be tweeted using the hashtags #southernfail and #mysouthernstory – a social media campaign also managed by Mr Rees.
He said it has been downloaded hundreds of times, and was the number one new travel app in the UK when it was launched in late November.
Due to demand, he is designing an iOS app for Apple which will be out soon.
He said that he hopes by people sharing their stories, it will highlight the damage being done to people’s lives to the parties embroiled in the dispute.
He said: “The stories which stick in my mind are the people who can’t get home in time to see their newborn children due to delays, and people who have to leave their jobs because they can’t get in.
“It isn’t just about getting from A to B; it is affecting people’s lives.”
Mr Rees is also part of the Association of British Commuters. He will be joining fellow members in a march on Thursday at 5.30pm from Victoria Station to the offices of the Department of Transport to convince the Government to end the strikes.
He also called for there to be an independent inquiry into the safety of driver-only trains, and criticised transport secretary Chris Grayling for his inaction.
He said: “Mr Grayling has made his position perfectly clear: he wants to break the unions and is using this situation to do so, but in doing so it is commuters who are being broken.”
While he acknowledged that the strikes were ‘extremely disruptive’, he believed the train drivers and conductors were genuinely striking due to passenger safety.
Around 300,000 passengers usually travel on 2,242 Southern services every weekday.
To download the app, search Southern Fail on Google Play.
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