A rail company has warned its staff not to wear branded shirts for their own safety as it cancels train services and pulls out of the Pride parade.

Govia Thameslink Railway, which operates Southern and Thameslink services, has suspended all trains this Saturday, coinciding with the first day of Pride celebrations in Brighton.

It means many people planning to travel from across the country and overseas may be unable to attend the annual Pride parade or see the headline performance from Black Eyed Peas in Preston Park.

Following the decision, which Pride organisers have objected to, the rail company has now said it would be inappropriate to take part in the parade through the city. It has withdrawn the GTR float.

Staff who had been due to take part had been offered branded shirts but have now been advised not to wear them over safety concerns.

A spokeswoman for GTR said the safety of staff was a priority and the company did not want any employee to suffer abuse because of the decision not to run trains.

The Argus: GTR staff have been advised not to wear Pride shirts with the company logo on for their own safetyGTR staff have been advised not to wear Pride shirts with the company logo on for their own safety (Image: GTR)

Samantha Facey, GTR’s safety, health and security director, said: “We have taken part in the community parade since 2019 and our colleagues have really enjoyed being involved - we’re incredibly proud to be a part of Brighton Pride.

“With no train services in and out of the city on August 5 we just don’t feel it would be appropriate for GTR to take part in the community parade with a company float and we are currently in discussions with the event organisers about this decision.”

GTR said the “difficult decision” to cancel services was made over concerns about passenger safety due to an overtime ban by train drivers’ union Aslef in an ongoing dispute over pay.

The company estimated that if services had run on an amended reduced timetable, there would have been a "capacity shortfall" of 85,000 passengers across the whole day, with 20,000 of those occurring at the busiest travel period after 9pm.

The Argus: All trains to the first day of Brighton Pride have been cancelledAll trains to the first day of Brighton Pride have been cancelled (Image: Govia Thameslink Railway)

Chris Fowler, network operations and performance director for GTR, said there would have been a serious risk of a large number of people being unable to get home.

He said: “After exploring all possible options and following discussions with the police, emergency services and local council, we simply cannot run a safe service with enough capacity for the extraordinary number of passengers that travel to Brighton for Pride.

“We can’t in good faith bring people into Brighton that cannot get home again, potentially leaving thousands of people stranded. Safety must come first.

“We know this will be incredibly frustrating and we’re really sorry to everyone who will be impacted, particularly in the LGBTQ+ community.”

Trains on Friday, August 4, and Sunday, August 6, are unaffected by the cancellation of services.

Mick Whelan, general secretary of Aslef, accused GTR of a “deliberate and malicious attempt” to disrupt Brighton Pride.

He said: “The company should do the right thing - give our members, their drivers, the pay rise they deserve and give the people of Brighton the train service they need.”

Those coming to Brighton for the Pride festivities face limited options for travelling to the city on Saturday, with National Express services from Gatwick to Brighton appearing to be sold out.

National Express has been approached for comment.