Southern has advised 500,000 commuters not to travel during the drivers' strike taking place on 13, 14 and 16 December.

There will be no rail services operating as a result of walkouts caused by a dispute over Southern's plan to introduce driver-only operated trains. Drivers from the ASLEF and RMT unions claim the proposal to make drivers responsible for operating train doors instead of conductors is unsafe. These claims have been disputed by industry regulator the Office for Rail and Road (ORR).

Home Secretary and MP for East Sussex Amber Rudd condemned the strikes, telling a newspaper: "It is totally unacceptable that our local area and communities will suffer further strikes over driver-only operated trains when they already run safely across much of the UK network, and when current staff will take home the same pay following the changes proposed by the train company."

In addition to the three days of complete walkouts, there is currently a separate ongoing industrial action by drivers refusing to work overtime. Services will be restricted, with severe delays expected on non-strike days.

The acrimony felt between the unions and Southern shows no sign of abating. Despite interventions from both and Hove Albion and the Church of England, the parties have been unable to get round the table and negotiate a deal that will put an end to hellish conditions for commuters in the south of England.

Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), who operates the Southern network, will today appeal a High Court decision not to place an injunction against ASLEF's action. ASLEF, which represents the vast majority of train drivers, has described the legal proceedings as a "waste of money". Regardless of the Court of Appeal's decision, GTR has told passengers not to travel tomorrow. A spokeswoman said: " Even if we are able to stop the strikes through the court, services will still be very heavily impacted tomorrow... we will not be able to offer a robust service they can rely on."

UPDATE: GTR have lost their appeal and strikes will go ahead. A spokesman said: "We will now be asking ACAS to convene urgent and immediate talks between GTR and ASLEF... Our aim is to find a resolution to their dispute so we can bring an end to the misery being suffered by the travelling public".

In addition, the RMT has today urged the ORR to investigate claims that Southern deliberately sabotaged services and falsely blamed the disruption on striking workers. Southern describe the claims as "fabricated nonsense".

Meanwhile, Southern announced they will be improving their compensation scheme for passengers who experience delays on their service. Repayments will now be offered to customers who are delayed by 15 minutes, rather than the current 30.