A group of commuters hit by months of strikes and disruption on Southern Rail services have applied for a judicial review to examine the Government's "ongoing failure" over the crisis.

In its application to the court the Association of British Commuters (ABC) attacked the Department for Transport for failing to hold Southern owners Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) to account for the "breakdown" of services – and it accused Transport Secretary Chris Grayling of acting unlawfully by failing to determine whether GTR breached its franchise obligations.

It also accused Grayling of failing to comply with his duties under the 2010 Equality Act, causing indirect discrimination to passengers with disabilities.

A judicial review is a type of court hearing in which a judge reviews the lawfulness of a public body's decision or action. If the court grants ABC leave to pursue a judicial review, the group says it hopes to crowdfund to continue its campaign.

Its push for a judicial review is backed by disability campaign group Transport For All and the Campaign For Better Transport.

Southern passengers have endured months of staff shortages and delays as well as industrial action by members of drivers' unions RMT and ASLEF amid a dispute about who's responsible for opening and closing train doors. Govia and ASLEF are currently in talks to resolve the situation.

An ABC spokesperson says: "Commuters have long since passed the point of exhaustion, and it is a matter of shame for the DfT that we have had to go to such great lengths to demand action be taken.

"We continue to urge the Department for Transport to act decisively and transparently on the future of Southern Rail. The longer they stand back from this unprecedented rail crisis, the harder it will be to put the pieces back together again."

The Department for Transport has told MoneySavingExpert.com: "We do not comment on ongoing legal proceedings."

This announcement comes a fortnight after a long-suffering Southern commuter used a little-known consumer law to get a refund on his season ticket because he followed MoneySavingExpert's Section 75 guide.

MSE founder Martin Lewis has suggested the success could pave the way for a huge number of claims from other Southern passengers.