Further Southern rail strikes possible says Aslef

Aslef flag Image copyright PA
Image caption Members of the train drivers' union rejected the deal with Southern by 54.1% to 45.9%

Further strike action by drivers on Southern rail remains a possibility after union members rejected a deal to end their dispute, Aslef has said.

Assistant general secretary Simon Weller said it was hoping to reopen talks with managers, but the mandate for a strike ballot was still valid.

"We could put strike dates on if we wish but it is not where we want to be.

"I see no reason why we can't achieve a negotiated settlement that's acceptable to all our members," he told the BBC.

Aslef has been in dispute with Southern's parent company, Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), over driver-only operated (DOO) trains.

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Why is there a Southern rail strike?

The dispute centres on Southern's decision to turn guards into on-board supervisors.

In this role they would no longer be responsible for opening and closing carriage doors - this duty would become the responsibility of the driver.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The dispute is over who is responsible for opening and closing the train doors

Union members rejected an agreement on Thursday, negotiated by their leaders with the help of the TUC, which would have enabled Southern to run trains without a guard or on-board supervisor under certain circumstances.

Mr Weller said drivers were generally "very unhappy with the way that they felt this had been steam-rollered through".

He conceded: "Obviously we got it wrong. We're a democratic organisation... and our members had a clear view on it.

"We got it wrong and I don't see that as a big problem... we just have to get it right again."

Image copyright PA
Image caption Southern rail passengers have faced months of delays and disruption

On Thursday, GTR said it was "saddened and hugely disappointed" with the ballot result and would be seeking to meet the union as soon as possible.

The dispute began in April when conductors - who are members of the RMT union - first took industrial action.

Aslef members then walked out over the plans in December, leading to the cancellation of all Southern services.

The RMT held separate talks with Southern managers earlier this week, which broke down without an agreement after three hours.

On Wednesday, it announced further industrial action, saying conductors would walk out for 24 hours next Wednesday.

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