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Southern rail strikes: Will the Government step in?

The ongoing dispute between the rail operator Southern and its guards over changes to their role has led to another 24-hour strike this week.

Our political correspondent Phil Hornby, who experienced some of the disruption himself this week, interviewed the Rail Minister Claire Perry and asked her if the Government will step in to resolve the dispute between Southern and the unions - or strip the operator, Govia Thameslink Trains, of its franchise.

Southern rail guards in 24 hr strike over role changes - 900 trains cancelled - 300,000 passengers affected

Southern guards on picket line

Thousands of commuters in the South have once again had to bare the brunt of a bitter dispute on the railways, as a fourth 24-hour strike by train conductors cripples services.

Southern Rail runs two thousand 200 trains a day across Sussex, Hampshire and Surrey. Today 900 trains were cancelled because of the strike affecting the journeys of 300,000 passengers.

There are calls for the Government tonight to step-in and take action. Our Transport Correspondent Mike Pearse reports.

The interviewees are: Mick Cash, RMT General Secretary; and Dyan Crowther, GTR Chief Operating Officer.

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Southern Rail guards' strike continues - passenger journeys disrupted

Rail guards' picket line in Brighton as row continues

There are calls for the Government to intervene in the ongoing row between the rail operator Southern and its staff.

The calls for action comes as guards have walked out again in a dispute over driver-only operated trains. Thousands of passengers have had their journeys disrupted with services being cancelled or reduced. But the Rail Minister, Claire Perry MP, has said she does not think it is the Government's job to step in. She has called for an end to the dispute.

The Campaign for Better Transport wrote to the Minister for Rail, Claire Perry MP, and urged her to take action over what the organisation called 'the failing Southern Rail franchise'.

“The ongoing problems with Govia Thameslink need to be urgently addressed. Passengers have now endured many months of cancellations and delays, so it is an outrage that the Government recently amended their franchise agreement to allow even more cancellations.

“The Department for Transport must take urgent action to restore public confidence in the franchise, to ensure passengers receive greatly improved services and appropriate compensation, to enforce franchise commitments, and to agree mechanisms so performance levels do not fall to such levels again. When train operators let down passengers, it is only right that they face penalties.”

– Lianna Etkind, Public Transport Campaigner at Campaign for Better Transport

Commuters protest in Brighton as new rail strikes announced

Credit: Andy Dickenson
Credit: Andy Dickenson

A demonstration has been held at Brighton railway station by passengers calling for an end to ongoing disruption.

Southern wants to increase the number of driver only-operated services but the RMT union claim safety and jobs would be at risk. Southern say jobs and safety are not at issue.

A new strike has now been announced for Tuesday next week after talks broke down at ACAS.

Peace talks expected in Southern rail dispute

Peace talks are likely next week Credit: ITV

Both sides in the Southern rail dispute are expected to hold peace talks next week.

The dispute is over changes to the role of the guard which has led to two strikes, affecting thousands of passengers.

Southern say they want to make guards more visible on trains. The union say it will mean guards losing duties that will put passenger safety at risk.

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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.

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.

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