Rail minister refuses Southern rail dispute intervention

Paul Maynard
Image caption Rail minister Paul Maynard attended the launch of the new Southeastern smart card

The rail minister has reaffirmed the government will not intervene in the ongoing industrial dispute between Southern Rail and the RMT union.

Paul Maynard MP said passengers would not thank the government for "costly intervention".

The dispute, which has led to a series of strikes throughout 2016, is centred on the role of guards on trains.

Earlier, the minister appeared in Parliament to answer a question on the dispute from Green MP Caroline Lucas.

However, speaking in Sevenoaks at the launch of a new smart card for passengers on the Southeastern network, Mr Maynard blamed the RMT for the strikes.

He said: "Of course I recognise the increasing frustration passengers are going to feel at this strike.

"The simplest thing the RMT can do is to call off the strike."

He added: "I recognise people are impatient for action, but when we take action it has to be the right action. Passengers won't thank us for costly intervention."

Southern rail strike dates:

00:01 Tuesday 6 December to 23:59 Thursday 8 December (RMT)

00:01: Tuesday 13 December to 23:59 Wednesday 14 December (Aslef)

00:01 Friday 16 December to 23:59: Friday 16 December (Aslef)

00:01 Monday 19 December to 23:59 Tuesday 20 December (RMT)

00:01 Saturday 31 December to 23:59 Monday 2 January (RMT)

00:01 Monday 9 January to 23:59: Saturday 14 January (Aslef)

General Secretary of the RMT, Mick Cash, blamed the Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, for the dispute.

"I meet with ministers on a regular basis and it is frankly absurd that Chris Grayling has refused point blank to meet with us while the Southern rail dispute, which he has the power to settle... rages on," he said.

"Running our railways by central government diktat is a recipe for disaster."

Last week the government announced a one-off compensation payment to season ticket holders.

The compensation scheme will begin in January.

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