A total shut down of local West Midlands train services on Sunday was caused by the uncertainty surrounding drivers' jobs, union leaders have revealed.
Although there was no official withdrawal of good will, Aslef said the break-up of the Central Trains franchise - announced last year but not due to be completed until 2007 - has left demotivated staff unwilling to volunteer for Sunday shifts.
On Friday evening the train operator announced it was unable to staff timetabled Sunday services after it could only persuade 50 volunteers - a third of the required staffing levels.
Politicians criticised the action and Birmingham businesses are thought to have lost thousands of pounds in lost trade.
Mick Whelan, Aslef district organiser, said drivers were concerned about their jobs after Transport Secretary Alistair Darling announced the Central franchise would be split into different franchises, potentially meaning many will be based away from the region.
"The people on the ground there are facing a tremendous amount of uncertainty," he said. "They have been told the franchise is to be remapped but they don't have any assurances on whether their jobs will be protected.
"I imagine in those circumstances there isn't a great deal of loyalty to the company brand and people have preferred to stay at home with their families."
He said driver contracts which required volunteers to run Sunday services were an "anomaly" of privatisation.
"It was all to do with what the company could afford.
Until such times as the company wants to talk about some form of contractual commitment to Sunday working, we are where we are.
"I hope it won't happen again but it would be naive of me to say it won't because I just don't know."
A rail industry insider told The Birmingham Post: "This is the first time a franchise has been split up and the real fear is there will just be a much smaller contingent of drivers required to be based in Birmingham.
"It's a quality of work issue too. Currently, one day a driver may work the Cross City line but the next day they will go on a longer route out east. When the franchise is split, that variety will not exist."
A spokesman for Central Trains apologised to passengers but said the company was hopeful it would not see a repeat of the disruption because the Christmas period would no or heavily reduced service levels on the next two Sundays.
"Discussions are ongoing and we do have a fortnight now to ensure that we have enough volunteering drivers for the first full Sunday in January."
John Lamb from the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce predicted city centre businesses would have lost "hundreds of thousands of pounds".
"Undoubtedly there would have been a big impact on the high street. I know retailers are reporting having a good pre-Christmas period so hopefully that off-set the problems that Sunday's lack of trains caused.
"I think such outmoded working practises have to be changed and I am sure the refranchising process will sort that out." ..SUPL: