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Crunch talks set to avert Tube and rail strikes

Demonstrators pose for a photograph outside Victoria Station in London last December. Credit: AP

Crucial talks will be held later in a bid to avert fresh strikes by rail and Tube workers.

Officials from the train drivers' union Aslef will meet managers from Southern Railway to prevent separate strikes over staffing and jobs.

Three days of industrial action, originally scheduled for next week, have been suspended whilst an overtime ban ended at midnight on Tuesday.

Thousands of passengers were hit by three days of strikes last week, after enduring months of disruption because of industrial action, staff shortages and other issues.

A sign warns passengers at Victoria station, London, of disrupted services. Credit: PA

Charles Horton, chief executive of Southern's owner, Govia Thameslink Railway, said: "We've always made clear our willingness to engage in meaningful talks with Aslef to find a route forward to end their dispute.

"So, together with our passengers and businesses, we warmly welcome their decision to suspend next week's planned industrial action.

"This is an important and significant development for the travelling public and the regional economy, and our focus and efforts now will be on productive talks with the union and trying to find a solution and a way forward."

Marble Arch Underground station was closed during the strike last week. Credit: PA

Meanwhile talks will resume to prevent further strikes on the London Underground.

Officials from RMT and the Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) will meet with conciliation service Acas over planned job cuts and ticket office closures.

Members of the two unions staged a 24-hour strike last week which crippled Tube services and caused travel chaos in the capital.

The RMT has warned of industrial action after February 6 if the row is not resolved.