England

Southern rail strike continues after collapse of talks

Brighton station - 11/10/16 Image copyright PA
Image caption Hundreds of thousands of rail passengers have been affected by the long-running dispute

Southern rail workers are continuing their strike action after the collapse of talks aimed at resolving the long-running dispute over conductors.

The 72-hour walkout began on Tuesday and is due to end at midnight, with 11 more days of industrial action planned.

Talks between the chief executive of Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), Charles Horton, and RMT leader Mick Cash lasted less than an hour on Wednesday.

Both sides have blamed each other for the deadlock.

The union has held a series of walkouts since April over the role of conductors.

New compensation for 15-minute rail delays

It has also accused Southern of "deliberately preventing trains from stopping at specific stations to force though driver-only operation".

"They are determined to have 1,600 trains a day running without a guard by January regardless of the impact on access and safety," it claimed.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Eleven more days of industrial action are planned

Following the breakdown of Wednesday's talks, RMT leader Mick Cash said the union was angry and frustrated that "a golden opportunity" to resolve the dispute had been "wrecked".

"It became clear from the outset that Mr Horton is refusing to stick by the assurances he gave to the media that he can absolutely guarantee a second member of staff on all current Southern services with a conductor," he said.

Mr Horton said he had made it "crystal clear" Southern was going to implement its proposals guaranteeing every train that had a conductor now would have a conductor or onboard supervisor in the future.

"However, on trains where the driver has full control of the train - if for any reason an onboard supervisor is unavailable, we want the flexibility to still run the train for the benefit of our passengers.

"Now what the RMT is asking us to do if that second person is not available, is to guarantee we'll cancel the train. That is simply not an option," he said.

"We're getting on with the job of changing the method of operation, and we hope that the RMT will now make the decision to cancel the strikes, to recognise that this has to end, and end now."


Strike dates announced by the RMT:

  • 00:01 Tuesday 11 October to 23:59 Thursday 13 October
  • 00:01 Tuesday 18 October to 23:59 Thursday 20 October
  • 00:01 Thursday 3 November to 23:59 Saturday 5 November
  • 00:01 Tuesday 22 November to 23:59 Wednesday 23 November
  • 00:01 Tuesday 6 December to 23:59 Thursday 8 December

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