Southern rail strike enters second day in RMT dispute

Striking workers Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The latest industrial action is in its second day

A strike by workers on the Southern rail network has entered its second day, bringing more disruption for passengers.

The RMT union has walked out for 48 hours in a long-running dispute with parent company Govia Thameslink (GTR) over the role of guards on new trains.

The union said the strike is "solidly supported", but Southern said it would "achieve nothing".

Southern said it planned to run about 60% of its normal services on Thursday.

By mid-morning, it said services had been running at 86% on time.

"We have been affected by a dog on the line at Purley Oaks, which has led to some delays," a spokesman added.

The latest action follows several one-day strikes and a five-day walkout last month that was called off halfway through.

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Image copyright EPA
Image caption Southern said the strike would "achieve nothing"

The union's general secretary Mick Cash said: "RMT members on Southern stand solid, determined and united again this morning on the second day of this phase of strike action.

"Our message that rail safety and access to transport services has to be put before the profits of Govia Thameslink is ringing out loud and clear."

The union is fighting moves to re-categorise conductors as "on-board supervisors", with drivers taking responsibility for opening and closing carriage doors.

The RMT maintains it has legitimate concerns over safety and job cuts, but the rail operator imposed the changes in August.

Southern passenger services director Alex Foulds said: "After many months of trying to reach agreement with the RMT, we are now moving forward with our plans for the benefit of customers and we urge the RMT to join us in putting passengers first.

"We have guaranteed all our onboard staff a job until the end of the franchise [2021], with no reduction in salary. Our plans are safe, and will mean fewer cancelled trains."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The RMT union says it has concerns about safety and job cuts
Image copyright AFP
Image caption About 60% of services are running during the action

The union is objecting to driver-only-operation (DOO), where the driver opens and closes doors at stations instead of the conductor.

Drivers have CCTV in the cabs to check people are clear of the doors - but the union has said it is still not safe and passengers will get hurt.

Members also fear train conductors will be phased out in the future to save money and cut staff - GTR has said conductors will remain on board and will just be helping passengers instead.

DOO trains have operated on Britain's railways for decades.

The Office of Rail Regulation has said it is happy they are safe and so has the Rail Safety and Standards Board, but the rail unions do not want any more.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Disputed changes to guards' roles were brought in last month

The union said GTR and the government had "made it clear that they have no interest in resolving this dispute".

But rail minister Paul Maynard said passengers wanted a "timely, modern and convenient service".

He said: "They should not have to suffer any further disruption from strikes as the unions try to prevent the delivery of a modern railway."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The RMT said its strike was "solidly supported"

Customer advice issued by Southern said routes it would have no service on included:

  • Clapham Junction to Milton Keynes via Kensington Olympia (London Overground and London Midland services will still operate as normal)
  • Dorking to Horsham
  • Leatherhead to Guildford (South West Trains services will operate)
  • Oxted to Uckfield
  • Haywards Heath to Lewes
  • Preston Park to Hove
  • Lewes to Seaford
  • Eastbourne to Ashford International via Hastings (Southeastern services will operate between St Leonards Warrior Square and Hastings as normal)
  • Chichester to Portsmouth Harbour and Southampton Central (South West Trains and Great Western Railway services will operate between Havant and Portsmouth Harbour/Southampton Central as normal)
  • Redhill to Tonbridge
  • Redhill to Reigate (Great Western Railway services will operate on this route as normal)
  • Earlswood, Salfords and Faygate stations will not be served

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