Live updates

Conductors told accept the deal on offer or face the sack

The operators of Southern Rail have told the main rail union, the RMT - unless they settle the dispute and accept the deal on offer, workers will be sacked.

Govia Thameslink say the union must agree and call off the strikes by Thursday, or they will have no choice. They say the dispute has brought misery for hundreds of thousands of passengers, and this ultimatum is all that's left to them.

But the RMT says the changes would threaten safety and security, and are adamant they won't give way. Here's Andy Dickenson with today's dramatic development.


Union bosses respond to rail operator's ultimatum

RMT bosses have responded to GTR's take-it-or-leave-it deadline, set in a bid to end its ongoing industrial dispute.

GTR has offered a £2,000 payment to conductors once the dispute is settled. It also guarantees jobs until 2021. Staff have until midday on Thursday to agree - or lose their jobs.

Mick Lynch, RMT Union, says the union will reject the offer, because the dispute is "purely about safety and not about money":

Southern conductors given ultimatum: take lump sum or face losing job

Credit: ITV News Meridian

The operators of Southern Rail have issued the RMT union with an ultimatum - conductors must take a £2,000 settlement or face losing their job.

Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) says the union must agree on a deal to call off the rail strikes by Thursday. GTR bosses say they have set out a fair and clear plan to settle the 10 month dispute over the role of conductors. The RMT says the changes would threaten safety and security.

GTR's 8-point offer includes guarantees on conductors’ jobs until 2021, the life of GTR's franchise agreement, above-inflation pay increases for the next two years and guaranteed levels of overtime.

GTR have warned the union that if the offer is not accepted by Thursday's deadline, it will "regretfully proceed without the RMT's involvement" and serve notice letters to conductors affected, terminating their existing contracts and inviting them to sign up to the new OBS role to be effective from January 1st. The company also warns that the offer - including the £2,000 lump sum payment - may be rescinded after the deadline.

Everyone is sick and tired of this pointless and unnecessary dispute and we now need to bring a swift end to these strikes which have caused months of misery for hundreds of thousands of workers, children going to school, family days out and retired people. We have a responsibility to the travelling public and our staff and, after 10 months of dispute, these strikes are plaguing people's lives and enough is enough.

– Charles Horton, Chief Executive, GTR

RMT announces more Southern strike dates

Strikes are planned in October, November and December Credit: Press Association

The rail union, RMT, have confirmed a series of strikes in the row over the role of guard on Southern rail trains.

Union bosses say Southern Rail is insistent on removing the safety-trained guards from the trains. It's a critical role that the RMT and disability campaigners say must stay.

The RMT describes the company's decision as a "blatant disregard for the safety and security of passengers and staff alike", leaving it with no alternative but to declare [strike] action"

These strikes are scheduled to take place:

  • 00.01 on Tuesday 11th October and 23.59 on Thursday 13th October
  • 00.01 on Tuesday 18th October and 23.59 on Thursday 20th October
  • 00.01 on Thursday 3rd November and 23.59 on Saturday 5th November
  • 00.01 on Tuesday 22nd November and 23.59 on Wednesday 23rd November
  • 00.01 on Tuesday 6th December and 23.59 on Thursday 8th December

Here is the RMT's full statement:

Yet again our members are being forced to take industrial action in a bid to maintain a safe and secure service on Southern. Govia Thameslink and the Government have made it clear that they have no interest in resolving this dispute. Instead they have begun the process of bulldozing through the drive towards wholesale Driver Only Operation (DOO) without agreement and without any concern for the impact on safety, security and disability access. Last week there was a train derailment near Watford that involved two trains. The Guards on both trains played a vital role in protecting the passengers and the trains in what were extremely frightening circumstances. If the train had been DOO and without a Guard the consequences would have been far worse. This week we reached a deal with Scotrail that we are recommending for acceptance in a referendum of our members, that guarantees a fully competent Conductor/Guard on every new train. This agreement protects passengers, and guarantees a second safety trained member of staff on board a train, who can assist if there is an incident such as we recently saw near Watford. If an agreement can be reached on Scotrail, then an agreement can also be made on Southern. In the light of these recent developments it is disgraceful that neither the company or the Government are prepared to engage and are continuing to attempt to impose DOO in the interests of putting profit before safety. We call on them to get round the negotiating table as an urgent priority."

– RMT General Secretary Mick Cash

£20m bail-out for Southern 'beggars belief' says MP

Caroline Lucas, Green MP for Brighton Pavilion Credit: ITV News

An East Sussex MP has accused the government of 'ploughing subsidies into a failing private company' after Transport Secretary Chris Grayling announced £20m of government funding for Southern Rail.

Caroline Lucas, Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, commented about the funding, which is part of a package of measures announced today to improve Southern's performance after months of cancellations and delays.

It’s astonishing that taxpayers’ money is set to be used to bail out a firm which lavishes its bosses with million pound wage packets. If the Government was serious about sorting the problems with Southern Rail then they would withdraw the damaging requirement for driver only trains, use this cash to employ the staff needed to run the railway and give long-suffering passengers the compensation they deserve.

It beggars belief that the Government is willing to plough subsidies into a failing private company but won’t countenance bringing the railways under democratic control through public ownership. Their ideological zealotry is getting in the way of common sense – and needlessly prolonging the pain for passengers.”

– Caroline Lucas, Green MP for Brighton Pavilion


Government announces £20m fund to improve Southern Rail services

Credit: ITV News Meridian

After months of delays, strikes and misery for passengers, the government has announced a £20m fund to improve Southern Rail services.

The money - from Network Rail - will go towards hiring extra staff at key stations and the faster replacement of worn track. The Department for Transport has demanded rapid improvements and have created a new project Board to oversee the developments. It will be headed by former chief operating officer of Virgin Rail Group, Chris Gibb, who has more than 35 years experience of working in key leadership roles in the rail industry.

The Department for Transport say the key additional benefits of the £20m include:

  • £2m to be spent on more rapid response teams to fix faults more quickly, located close to known hotspots;
  • £2.5m to be spent on accelerated train maintenance;
  • £0.8m investment in extra signal supervisors to keep trains moving across the network;
  • £0.9m investment in a series of measures to minimise the impact of bridge strikes.

I want the Southern network to be run by a team of people who work together to make sure passengers get decent journeys and that problems are dealt with quickly. This review will suggest how we achieve a joined up approach to running the train and tracks and make things work better for the public.

We also need to get to grips with things that go wrong on this part of the network. That is why we are putting in place a £20m scheme to tackle the cause of breakdowns that too often cause frustrating and damaging delays on the network.

I now urge the industry, the train operating company and unions to work together to improve services for passengers.”

– Chris Grayling, Transport Secretary

BREAKING: Southern Rail staff announce new 48-hour strike

Credit: ITV News Meridian

Rail passengers will face more travel chaos as Southern Railway announce a new 48-hour strike.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union say its members will walk out on 7th and 8th September. It's over the long-running row over the role of guards on trains, changes which were imposed from Sunday.

The strikes will come on top of months of disruption to Southern's services because of industrial action and staff shortages.

Passengers have staged demonstrations to protest the level of services.

Thames Govia calls for fresh talks to resolve industrial action

The company which owns under fire Southern Rail has asked ACAS for fresh talks to try to resolve the on-going industrial dispute.

Govia Thameslink is calling on the union to call off it's five day strike by conductors due to start next month.

Conductors are due to walk out for five days on 8th August Credit: ITV Meridian

“The RMT’s claims we have refused to engage with them are simply not true and we are calling on them to come to Acas and sort this out for the sake of our passengers.

“Passengers have been suffering daily disruption ever since the RMT began this unnecessary action and should not be forced to suffer five days more, all because the RMT is refusing to work with us and modernise the railway for the benefit of our passengers.

“We have guaranteed all our onboard staff a job, as valued members of our future operation, with no reduction in salary.

“We value the work of our staff, who are trying their best to deliver service levels that passengers expect. The sooner we can introduce the essential modernisation that our railways desperately need, the sooner we will address the current capacity and performance issues and deliver a better service for our passengers.”

– Chief Operating Officer Dyan Crowther

Rail ticket office staff to be balloted for strike action

Rail passengers who use Southern and Thameslink services are facing more misery after the rail Union RMT decided to ballot hundreds of ticket office staff for strike action.

Southern says changes would improve services for customers Credit: PA

The union says GTR, which owns the companies, wants to close ticket offices and cut 130 jobs.

The new action is on top of the chaos being caused by an on-going dispute over the roll of guards.

Under the plan new roles of Station Hosts will be created that will see staff removed from ticket offices and sent onto platforms to assist passengers and sell tickets.

The impact of their proposals cannot be underestimated. GTR want to close ticket offices, or cut them to morning peak only, at 83 stations from as far afield as Kings Lynn and Bognor Regis. As a means of doing this they plan to introduce a new multi-functional role of Station Host which we estimate will result in a cut of at least 130 jobs.

– RMT Union

GTR insists it is the best use of staff time and will improve services for passengers.

Load more updates