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RMT strike continues on Southern - union calls for 'genuine and meaningful talks'

Strike over proposed changes to the role of conductors continues

There has been more disruption for passengers who travel on Southern railway services in the region. Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) have been continuing a 48-hour strike in the ongoing row over the role of train conductors.

Train drivers who are members of the ASLEF union are also carrying out a ban on overtime.

Southern's management have apologised for the continued disruption to their passengers journeys.

Meanwhile the General Secretary of the RMT, Mick Cash, has responded with anger to the news that the Prime Minister plans to hire more replacement buses to ease the problems the Southern railways strikes are causing for rail users.

‎"Instead of resorting to lash-up stunts for public relations purposes Theresa May should be instructing her Southern rail contractors to get back round the table and sort out the issues about passenger safety at the heart of this dispute."

‎"The collapse in industrial relations on Southern can all be traced back to the comments of top Government rail official Peter Wilkinson back in February when he made it clear at a meeting in Croydon that he was actively seeking a war with staff and their unions.

"If she's serious about getting a grip Mrs May needs to scrap that agenda of confrontation and give us an opportunity to engage in genuine and meaningful talks."

– Mick Cash, RMT General Secretary


Southern trains management deny walking out of talks with RMT union over conductor strikes

Southern trains came to a stop earlier this week during a strike by conductors

The management of Southern trains has tonight denied walking out of talks with the RMT union.

The two sides were in negotiations about planned changes to the role of conductors and guards on the trains. The RMT members say they are against a move to driver-only trains.

While Southern say they are trying to modernise the service. ITV Meridian's Transport Correspondent Mike Pearse spoke to Alex Foulds from Southern.

Rail workers march against potential cuts

Protesters marched through Southampton today as part of a campaign against threats to railway services.

Members of the RMT and other unions say new franchises for private operators will mean increased fares, cuts to the number of trains, and a reduction in jobs. They claim there's public support for re-nationalisation of the rail industry.

RMT General Secretary Mick Cash spoke to ITV Meridian.

Rail union leader says "lessons must be learned" after fire alert

The rail signallers’ union RMT has responded to the fire evacuation of the Three Bridges railway signalling centre in Sussex this morning. The incident led to the disruption of services in and out of London, through to Gatwick, and to the south coast.

“Firstly, it is a tribute to the staff at Three Bridges, and the fire brigade, that the emergency procedures were put into effect and carried through in an exemplary fashion this morning.

“RMT now awaits an inquiry into the full facts behind the incident and the evacuation and the union expects to play a full role in the investigation and the drawing up of any conclusions and recommendations.

"However, RMT believes that this morning’s incident shines the spotlight on plans to centralise signalling operations into 14 regional centres, a move that clearly throws up real risks of putting all the eggs in one basket with the obvious problem of a whole region going down if a centre is taken out of action.

“Add to that the shortage of Mobile Operations Managers (MOM’s) to cope in the light of an emergency like the one at Three Bridges, and plans for a massive reduction in signallers’ numbers, and we can see the whole system ending up as a high-wire act taking unnecessary risks.

“Lessons must be learnt.”

– Bob Crow, RMT General Secretary


Row over South West Trains & Network Rail scheme intensifies

A row over the success or failure of a pilot project teaming up private rail firms and rail infrastructure has intensified. Earlier today Bob Crow - the leader of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) - criticised the scheme's performance - saying standards had slipped.

However the South West Trains-Network Rail Alliance, whose collaboration sparked the comments has responded to the RMT's claims, saying it was wrong to compare a period of challenging bad weather last year with one of the best periods ever this year - including the Olympic Games in London.

"In his rush to try to make an opportunistic political point, Bob Crow has chosen to not look at the wider picture and has been selective in his choice of evidence to support his claims. The fact is that in the first period of the Alliance, which the RMT are using as a comparison, our services were heavily impacted by severe weather, something completely out of our control, which cannot possibly be compared against one of the best periods ever during April 2011.

"The reality is that over the first five months of the Alliance, we have maintained our high level of performance on one of Europe's busiest commuter network and the most recent figures show that last month we achieved the highest level of punctuality in two years at 95.8%.

"This was achieved against a backdrop of some major challenges, including flooding on the network and the increased numbers of passengers travelling on our network during the London 2012 Games.

"Our frontline staff, including RMT members, have helped our trains continue to be amongst the most punctual in the country. But we are determined to keep on improving. The more collaborative approach under the Alliance will help us to deliver an even better service to passengers and a more efficient railway for taxpayers."

– South West Trains-Network Rail Alliance spokesperson

Union says rail merger project in 'free fall'

The rail workers' union has revealed figures today that it claims show the Government's pilot project for merging private rail companies with infrastructure is in 'free fall'.

The RMT says performance standards have collapsed in the 'so-called "deep alliance" pilot' on South West Trains.

According to the union, performance on South West Trains fell by 3.7% in the first full month of the project; while average punctuality in the six months to September fell by 0.6% compared to the same six months in 2011 before the project came into force.

“Not only is the whole franchising system in chaos today but the Government’s own pilot for giving the private sector a controlling influence on infra-structure, under the terms of the McNulty Rail Review, is in meltdown as well.

“The “deep alliance” was supposed to improve punctuality and performance but as these figures show the opposite is in fact the case and passengers on this vital commuter service, facing fare hikes of up to 11% in January, can see standards of service in meltdown.

“The overwhelming case for scrapping McNulty and renationalising the railways is now staring the Government smack bang in the face."

– Bob Crow, RMT General Secretary
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