England

Southern rail: Strike suspended at British Legion's request

Southern train Image copyright PA
Image caption Industrial action over the role of guards has caused months of disruption on the Southern network

The RMT union has suspended one strike day in a dispute with Southern rail after the British Legion requested it.

The strike on 3 November is the first of its next three-day walkout in a dispute over the role of conductors.

The union said the rest of its scheduled action would go ahead‎ and talks remain deadlocked, although the firm welcomed this latest move.

London Poppy Day, on 3 November, will see uniformed personnel collecting money at Tube and railway stations.

The RMT said members were "standing firm" during its current three-day stoppage which ends at midnight.

General secretary Mick Cash said the union recognised the importance of 3 November to the British Legion, which marks Armistice Day on 11 November.

Meanwhile, Southern has announced it will restore 63 more services to its timetable from Monday, and a further 46 services on 31 October.

Live updates on the strike and other stories

The full West London Line timetable and 34 West Coastway services to destinations such as Hove, Bognor, Barnham and Worthing will return from 24 October, while services between Brighton and Southampton and Hastings and Ashford will return the following week.

However, 33 Gatwick Express services will not return until 12 December as part of "autumn leaf-fall arrangements", the network said.

Services were removed as part of a revised timetable introduced earlier this year.

A Southern spokesman said: "We are pleased that the RMT has called off its strike on London Poppy Day but disappointed that they are still planning to push ahead with the strike action planned for November 4 and 5 which will inconvenience thousands of commuters and families trying to enjoy Bonfire Night."

The industrial action has added to months of delays and cancellations for passengers, with Transport Secretary Chris Grayling urging both sides to end the disruption.

The union wants the retention of a conductor, in addition to the driver, to be on trains at all times.

Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), which owns Southern, has been pressing ahead with its intention to extend driver-only operation to all its services.

Southern train drivers are also being balloted by their union Aslef over driver-only trains, raising the possibility of joint strikes.

Image copyright Twitter
Image caption Southern commuters have been complaining about overcrowded carriages

On Monday, the RMT union rejected an offer from the company of a £2,000 bonus to staff if they ended the dispute.

The RMT has demanded "passenger safety be put before private profit", but GTR maintains modernising the service would be "safe".

Chief executive Charles Horton said there would still be a second person onboard trains.

"By modernising the train service so that drivers have sole control, passengers will get better on-board customer service and fewer delayed trains," he said.


Strike dates announced by the RMT:

  • 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

The RMT's latest three-day walkout, has led to the cancellation of hundreds of trains, with commuters taking to social media to complain of the disruption.

Stephanie Fuller tweeted: "Even by your shocking standards @SouthernRailUK my train from carshalton B is dangerously overcrowded. I don't feel safe #southernstrike".

Rob Shirley said: "@SouthernRailUK so there's a strike but still our train turns up with 4 coaches? Surely put the biggest trains you have on the track."

And Mike Webb asked: "@SouthernRailUK How long are you going to continue ruining people's evenings? #delays #frustrating #southernfail."

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