UCL News


Southern Trains dispute: correspondence on behalf of UCL staff and students

16 January 2017

UCL Interim HR Director John Parr has written a letter to MPs, Southern Trains' Chief Operating Officer and the Transport for London Commissioner, regarding the difficulties staff and students are facing as a result of the Southern Train dispute.

Southern Trains dispute: correspondence on behalf of UCL staff and students

While it is not for UCL to express an opinion on the issues involved, the university's senior management team felt it was important to share UCL's concerns for staff and students with those who might be in a position to help bring the current difficulties to an end.

A copy of the letter, which was sent to the following individuals on Thursday 12 January, can be viewed below:

  • Nick Brown, Chief Operating Officer, Southern Trains
  • The Rt. Hon Chris Grayling MP, Secretary of State for Transport
  • Sir Keir Starmer MP, Member of Parliament for Holborn and St. Pancras
  • Mike Brown MVO, Commissioner, Transport for London
  • Jasmine Whitbread, Chief Executive, London First.

UCL letter to Nick Brown, Chief Operating Officer, Southern Trains 12 January

Dear Mr Brown,

I am writing to you on behalf of the management, staff and students at University College London - UCL.

UCL is a world-leading academic institution here in London. We attract and employ, train and educate individuals from all over the globe and are proud to make a considerable contribution both to international research and to the economy and culture of the city of London.

One of UCL's great advantages is being located here in London with its many attractions and opportunities. However, we have a duty of care towards all those whom we employ and teach and we feel we would be failing in this regard if we did not share with you our current anxieties and concerns for those who work and study here.

Owing to the ongoing industrial dispute on Southern Trains, staff and students alike are experiencing considerable disruption, upset, stress and sheer fatigue both in their university and home lives. The harm is difficult to measure but is tangible and widespread. UCL is home to some 13,000 staff and 39,000 students and a great many rely on Southern trains.

It is not for UCL to express an opinion on the dispute other than to regret its occurrence and impact. Not only are the attendance difficulties of our staff caused by the absence of transport causing considerable operational difficulties; staff are falling behind in their work and suffering stress and worry whilst additional work is having to be picked up by colleagues. Our ability to provide the right levels of service and support to our students is inevitably under great pressure.

Whilst we are doing all we can with the cooperation of staff and students alike to be flexible and understanding in mitigation of the dispute's impact, it has very severe consequences for us as a vital London institution and the many thousands of individuals with whom we engage.

We recognise we are not alone, of course. But in so recognising the fact that there are thousands of other organisations similarly affected, the extent of the true human cost of the dispute can begin to be grasped.

The human cost clearly extends far beyond Southern Trains as a company and its 4000 staff and we would urge all those who are in a position to do so to understand their broader responsibility towards the community and use their good offices to bring the dispute to an end and return Southern Railway to normality.

Yours sincerely,

John Parr

Interim Executive Director, UCL HR

University College London