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Business leaders to protest over Southern rail row

Industrial action to take place again this week

Business leaders in the Sussex town of Eastbourne are expected to hold a protest today over the disruption being caused to the area's transport network by the ongoing dispute between Southern Railways and the unions over changes to the role of train guards.

Members of the Eastbourne Chamber of Commerce and the south coast chambers claim that problems on Southern Railways have cost the local economy more than three hundred million pounds.

The business leaders say the rail operator, the RMT and ASLEF unions, and the Transport minister all bear responsibility for the continuing row.

On Friday rail passengers protested against the ongoing dispute

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Train drivers reject deal in Southern rail strikes row

The train drivers' union ASLEF has tonight rejected a deal aimed at resolving the long-running dispute over driver-only trains on Southern Rail.

It was thought that the majority of members would agree to the deal - but in a shock move - drivers decided by 54 to 46% NOT to accept the recommendation.

It's only the second time in ASLEF's history that drivers have gone against their union's recommendation. Our Transport Correspondent Mike Pearse sends this from East Grinstead station....

ASLEF train drivers reject Southern deal - Rail boss says: 'Naturally we're saddened'

More industrial action to come in the dispute on Southern trains

The head of Govia Thameslink Railway - Southern's parent company, has given his reaction to the decision of ASLEF union members to reject a deal in the ongoing dispute about driver-only trains.

“Naturally we’re saddened and hugely disappointed, as will be our passengers, with today’s decision by drivers, particularly as the agreement carried the full support and recommendation of the ASLEF leadership. We now need to understand the issues which led to this outcome and we’ll be seeking to meet with the union as soon as possible to see how we can agree a way forward.”

– Nick Brown, Chief Operating Officer of Govia Thameslink Railway, Southern’s parent company

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Transport boss invites rail union for dispute talks

Library photo: Charles Horton speaks to ITV News Meridian in November 2016 Credit: ITV News Meridian

The chief executive of Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), parent company of Southern, has invited the RMT union for face-to-face talks next week to try and settle their dispute.

In a personal letter to Mick Cash, general secretary of the union, Charles Horton, chief executive of GTR said his negotiating team was willing to meet next week "in a spirit of open and positive dialogue to explore the areas of difference between us with a view to resolving the dispute in the interests of our customers and employees".

Mr Horton also asked Mr Cash that: "these discussions be conducted without the threat of further industrial action hanging over them".

GTR will now be contacting the union to make "the necessary arrangements" for the talks.

An RMT spokesperson said: "We can confirm that we have had a formal offer of talks from GTR. That offer will be considered by RMT's executive later today. The union will be making no further comment until the executive has met."

Commenting on the agreement with ASLEF announced yesterday, Mr Horton said:

We are pleased to have reached a deal with the ASLEF leadership. They were prepared to come to the table, with passengers liberated of any threat of strike action.

Both parties arrived ready to listen, have an open mind and ready to do a deal and I am grateful to Mick Whelan and his Executive for the spirit they entered the talks and agreed a deal with us. I also recognise and respect that drivers will now vote on the agreement and I hope it will be given their green light.

We would call on the RMT to follow that same consensual spirit and leadership and come to the table with the courage, confidence and conviction to settle their dispute for the benefit of passengers, the regional economy, their members and our employees"

– Charles Horton, Chief Executive, GTR

Figures reveal majority of Southern trains late despite 'normal service' promise

Credit: PA

Official figures have revealed almost 75% of trains on Southern were late yesterday, the first day the company said it would operate a normal service after months of strikes. Just 26% of trains on the Brighton mainline were on time, rising to fewer than 60% arriving within five minutes which is the industry standard.

The figures are worse than the previous day which had a strike by RMT conductors when 40% of trains were on time.

The company says it is running a full service now that the drivers union ASLEF has called off strikes this week while peace talks continue and guards are working new contracts which mean they no longer close train doors.

The other union involved in the dispute, the RMT, will hold drivers strikes tomorrow and Friday but as they only have twelve members it is not expected to cause any extra disruption.

Southern say they are committed to improving services and it was impacted because extra services were diverted to Victoria because of a derailment that badly disrupted Southeastern. ​

Govia Thameslink Railway (Gatwick Express, Great Northern, Southern and Thameslink) publishes its performance statistics for the previous day by 12pm the following day.

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