Southern Railway dispute with union becomes increasingly bitter

A bitter dispute over the role of rail guards has worsened after the RMT union said it had evidence that Southern Railway trains were being cancelled even if staff were available.

Southern services have been disrupted for weeks due to strikes and high levels of staff sickness.

Credit: PA

The union has announced a further 24-hour strike next Tuesday, much to the misery of thousands of commuters who travel into the capital every weekday.

The RMT union says it has evidence of 33 trains which didn't run where staff had been available and ready to work. However, services were cancelled because of issues such as engineering works, rolling stock failure or unavailability.

RMT is sick and tired of Govia Thameslink (GTR, which runs Southern) peddling a pack of lies and trying to blame staff for cancellations and disruption which are down to the company itself. This research blows apart that campaign of dirty tricks. There is no 'unofficial action' on Southern.

– Mick Cash, RMT Union

The RMT is protesting against plans to change the role of guards on Southern trains from August so drivers are responsible for operating the doors. A spokesperson for Southern Railway has dismissed the latest claims from the union.

Credit: PA

There is absolutely no incentive for us to cancel trains unnecessarily - we are fined heavily every time this happens. Some of these spurious examples can be explained by missing train crew causing an earlier cancellation but with so much disruption, genuine mistakes are also bound to be made when telling our passengers what is going on. The simple fact is sickness levels among conductors are very high. Driver sickness has also risen at certain depots.

– Southern Railway Spokesperson