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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.

RMT union talks with Southern trains have broken down

Talks aimed at settling the guards dispute at Southern trains broke down a short time ago with the RMT union saying it would "escalate the dispute."

More strike days are expected to be called when the union executive meets next week.

The union say managers "stormed out of the talks" after failing to reach agreement.

The row centres on changes to the role of the guard.

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Southern train conductors to strike in April & May

Southern trains conductors are to strike

The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union has confirmed that it has instructed its members who are conductors on Southern trains not to book on for work between:

  • 11.00 hours on Tuesday 26th April 2016 until 10.59 hours on Wednesday 27th April 2016
  • 11.00 hours on Tuesday 10th May 2016 until 10.59 hours on Wednesday 11th May 2016
  • 11.00 hours on Thursday 12th May 2016 until 10.59 hours on Friday 13th May 2016.

The industrial action is over plans to introduce trains without conductors, otherwise called 'Driver Only Operation' (DDO) services. The union says that the move threatens its members jobs, working conditions and public safety. The call for strikes and other measures follows a union ballot.

Southern train conductors to stage 24-hour strikes

The rail operator wants to introduce conductor-less trains along its routes

Trains conductors working for Southern Rail are expected to hold a number of 24-hour strikes in a row over the introduction of driver-only trains.

The move follows a vote by RMT union members.

Rail conductors vote to take industrial action over jobs

The RMT railworkers' union has said that conductors on Southern rail services have voted by massive majorities to take industrial action.

Southern services are operated by Govia Thameslink Railway. The ballot for a strike and for other non-strike action is over the introduction of Driver Only Operation (DOO) on trains. The union says that operating trains with just a driver - and without conductors - is a move that threatens jobs, conditions and public safety.

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Major changes could be made to ticket offices

Transport Focus is against plans to close ticket offices Credit: ITV Meridian

Plans for major changes to ticket offices for Southern and Thameslink trains are being opposed by Transport Focus, the official Government watchdog for rail passengers.

The company that runs the trains says it wants more staff to be visible on platforms where they can also sell tickets.

Around 80 stations would be hit - including many in Sussex and Surrey.

But unions have claimed the move would be closing booking offices by the back door, and fear it would mean a worse service for passengers.

ITV Meridian spoke to Sara Nelson from Transport Focus.

Parliament delays Lucas's bid to renationalise the rail service

She's one of many Sussex commuters fed up with the standards of service of our trains but she has a bit more clout than the average commuter - and today she set about using it.

Caroline Lucas, the Green Party MP for Brighton Pavilion, has launched a Parliamentary Bill proposing the renationalisation of the rail network. She says it would reduce fares, improve punctuality and save taxpayers a billion pounds a year. Andy Dickenson reports.

The Department for Transport have now issued a statement for this report.

They said: "We are determined to make journeys better and it is unacceptable that customers are not always receiving the service they deserve.

"We believe that franchising provides the best way to improve services and closely monitor the performance of all train companies - and offer them incentives to meet targets."

Longer platforms, longer trains

Start of work to extend platform at Hever Stn Credit: Network Rail

The Tonbridge MP Tom Tugendhat has formally marked the start of a project that will extend twelve station platforms between Edenbridge and Uckfield. The project will allow the introduction of 10-coach trains that will reduce crowding on the Uckfield line and help to meet growing passenger demand. The new longer trains will increase capacity on the line during the morning peak by 50% from July 2016.

Network Rail will build the longer platforms and infrastructure, and Southern Railway will lease, refurbish and run the trains.

“I am pleased that the platform extensions on the Uckfield line are taking place and will be completed soon. This will mean that commuters and other rail users will be able to have a more comfortable journey as trains are able to take extra carriages. Work is now underway and this will be a huge benefit to the local community in providing a better train service. I look forward to the completion of the work early next year”.

– Tom Tugendhat MP
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