England

Southern trains 'cancelled despite drivers being free'

Southern rail conductor Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The long-running dispute is over plans for drivers, instead of conductors, to operate train doors

Southern has been accused of cancelling trains and blaming industrial action even though drivers were available.

The train company is embroiled in a bitter dispute with the RMT union and Aslef over driver-only operated trains.

Aslef, which represents drivers, has said services from Eastbourne and into London Bridge have been cancelled even though drivers were free.

Southern has admitted some drivers may be spare for parts of their shifts but blamed the union's overtime ban.

More strikes planned

A Southern spokesman said: "The root cause of the service disruption today [Saturday] is the Aslef overtime ban which means we have had to reduce the number of trains.

"Due to the complexity of drivers' work patterns, this means some may be spare for part of their shift.

"We are using these drivers where possible to move carriages into position for tomorrow's service or will run additional shuttles where we have trains available."

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Aslef drivers walked out on Tuesday for two days and again on Friday, bringing the Southern network to a standstill.

The RMT union is set to begin a 48-hour walk-out of conductors on Monday, while the overtime ban by Aslef drivers continues.

More strikes are planned in December and January by both unions.

Talks at conciliation service Acas between GTR and Aslef failed to reach an agreement on Thursday. Negotiations ended with both sides claiming to be open for talks.


Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption Further stoppages are planned by both unions

Planned Southern strike dates

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

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

00:01 Monday 9 January to 23:59 Saturday 14 January (Aslef and RMT drivers' strike)


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