Long-suffering commuters on Southern Rail found something to chuckle about this week thanks, in no small part, to a 15-year-old work experience boy.
On a typical day, you would expect to see Southern's Twitter stream filled with complaints from frustrated commuters. But all that briefly changed as Andy Dickenson has been finding out.
The rail union, the RMT, has confirmed that its driver members on Southern Rail will join the Aslef union in strike action in August in the ongoing dispute about driver-only trains.
They say they're 'defending the role of the guard and the guarantee of a second safety-critical member of staff on Southern services'.
The industrial action is scheduled for the following dates:
- Tuesday 1st August - 24 hours
- Wednesday 2nd August - 24 hours
- Friday 4th August - 24 hours
Yet again today RMT is forced to send Southern Rail a clear message that we will not allow them to strip the railway of a safety critical second member of staff on these vital rail services."
“We have seen again this week the Government propping up the failed Southern Rail operation as they collude with the company to undermine the fundamental principles of safety and access."
“It is scandalous that neither Chris Grayling nor his contractors, GTR, have lifted a finger to get talks back on despite approaches from the union. This fiasco cannot be allowed to drag on any longer.”
The Transport Secretary has blamed the Labour party leadership for the latest industrial action on Southern Rail.Read the full story ›
Rail union leaders have demanded an immediate halt to cutting train guards, an issue which has led to strikes across the country, including on Southern Rail.
Mick Cash, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union, said the election had sent out a clear message that the public have rejected cuts, austerity and privatisation.
Despite Theresa May and her allies throwing the full weight of the establishment machine at Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party, the electorate have seen through that barrage of negativity and have voted in their droves for Labour's socialist manifesto.
RMT is calling for an immediate halt to the push to axe the guards on our trains. That was a political policy driven by the Tory party and should now be buried under the weight of votes that have racked up against Theresa May and her programme. There is no mandate for diluting safety on our transport services.
The union is writing to Arriva Rail North, Southern and Merseyrail, firms embroiled in disputes over staffing and driver-only trains, demanding that they lift the "threat" to guards.
Southern is understood to have called an urgent meeting with the train drivers' union Aslef this afternoon in a desperate attempt to try to avert next week's industrial action. Up to 600 trains a day would be cancelled.
Around 1,000 drivers are set to start an indefinite overtime ban on Sunday.
The company is refusing to confirm the peace talks, but union sources say there has been contact with them.
Services will be in chaos for hundreds of thousands of passengers if the action goes ahead.
It is understood both sides will meet at lunchtime.
So far months of talks have failed to reach agreement over driver-only trains.
“After over five months of intense negotiations and two peace deals agreed and recommended by the ASLEF executive, we are dismayed the union leadership is taking this action, which is designed to impact as many of our passengers as possible.
“Driver-controlled operation with on-board supervisors was fully implemented back in January and thanks to this we are running more trains than before and our service has improved for five consecutive months. We’re safely running over 80,000 trains a month with drivers controlling the doors across our network – we’re sorry that passengers will suffer as a result of this unnecessary action.
“We have worked our hardest to resolve this dispute with ASLEF. If this action does go ahead we will run as full a timetable as possible. We will be working around the clock to evaluate the impact and develop contingency plans which will be advertised as soon as possible.”
Rail users who travel by Southern could be in for more disruption. Train drivers belonging to the ASLEF union are to start an overtime ban.Read the full story ›
Rail workers staged a protest outside Parliament today in their long-running dispute with the train operator Southern.
Members of the RMT union are still fighting the introduction of driver-only operation. Southern says the changes it's brought in free up staff to help commuters.
The year-long dispute has seen 31 strike days. In 2016, almost sixty thousand Southern services were either fully or partly cancelled. It's the longest dispute on the railways since 1994.
But disabled passengers in particular say the service has gone from bad to worse. Malcolm Shaw reports.
Unions have condemned the news that the head of Southern Rail has received a pay package of nearly half a million pounds.
Charles Horton was paid nearly £500,000 despite the company having been hit by more than 30 days of industrial action by the RMT and Aslef unions over the past year.
The RMT's General Secretary, Mick Cash, said he is "astounded" by the salary:
Rail passengers have suffered travel disruption for nearly a year but CEO takes home nearly half-a-million pounds salary packageRead the full story ›