Latest Rail News


RMT calls on Grayling to urgently intervene in Southern dispute

The RMT has put further pressure on transport secretary Chris Grayling today as it penned an open letter calling for “urgent intervention” in its dispute with Southern.

Back in June, the RMT called for talks to be held as Grayling was reappointed into the Cabinet following the general election, but since then there has been no progress in bringing the three parties together.

It also follows GTR, the parent company of Southern, making offers to the union on Monday guaranteeing staffing and job security, as well as exceptional circumstances when trains would run without a second member of staff.

All of these measures were rejected by the RMT, who, according to GTR, were unwilling to discuss any of these things.

The letter from RMT general secretary Mick Cash to Grayling accused GTR of “deliberately misrepresenting” the union’s position.

“This development clearly reinforces my call yesterday for all sides to now meet together, around the same table, to see if we can jointly find a resolution to this dispute,” it said.

“Southern Rail are spinning lines which are a complete misrepresentation of the facts,” Cash added. “RMT attended talks with the company on Monday at the request of Chris Grayling and we set out a package of proposals for serious discussion that could have cleared the log-jam and paved the way for a solution to this long-running dispute.

“It was the company that knocked back our proposals flat and it is the company that are now selling the message that as far as they are concerned the talks process is over.”

But a spokesperson for GTR told RTM that the union had not come up with any new proposals to bring the bitter conflict to an end in Monday’s talks, and were unwilling to explore any aspects of the various offers that have been made to settle their dispute.

“Modernisation is urgently required to futureproof our railway,” they said. “Alongside investment in better infrastructure and new trains, this includes transforming working practices.

“We hope the RMT will get on board with these essential improvements to give our passengers the service they deserve.”

A DfT spokesman added that the government was doing everything it could to resolve the situation on Southern and get passengers the high-quality rail services that they deserved.

“We held constructive meetings with both Aslef and the RMT unions, which paved the way for GTR and the unions to restart their negotiations,” they explained. “We hope their discussions can bring an end to this dispute.”

Top Image: Nick Ansell PA Wire

Have you got a story to tell? Would you like to become an RTM columnist? If so, click here.


Lutz   10/08/2017 at 06:06

It is ridiculous for RMT to be calling for the Government to intervene; the relationship is between the RMY and GTR. If they feel they are not progressing in the negotiations with GTR they should tale the matter to ACAS and thence to the Courts. Meanwhile GTR should start sacking people, and bankrupting the RMT through legal action.

J, Leicester   10/08/2017 at 08:54

Careful what you wish for, RMT - he'll just rip up your contracts and replace you with bi-mode conductors that do your jobs more slowly.

Mikeb   10/08/2017 at 20:46

@Lutz. GTR is not strictly a franchise but a management contract in which the fare income does not go to GTR but they receive a government fee for operating the services. So GTR carries less revenue risk than in a normal rail franchise and they are basically doing the bidding of the government. The DfT has been interfering in the running of GTR since it's inception and should therefore not wash it's hands of this dispute.

BB   11/08/2017 at 15:16

The RMT have no traction in this dispute anymore. When they go on strike now nearly the entire Southern network runs a full timetable. They are refusing to move on the principle that every train for ever more will always have two members of staff, even in extraordinary circumstances which would otherwise see train cancellations. RMT want "all parties" round the table as they now have to rely on the ASLEF drivers to exert pressure. When ASLEF go on strike everyone takes notice.

SWB   11/08/2017 at 18:22

It seems like RMT's leadership is getting more and more desperate. Its strikes have little effect now so RMT must rely on another union, and Mr. Grayling it would seem, to do its heavy lifting. It's simultaneously laughable and sad.

Jerry Alderson   12/08/2017 at 10:17

SWB wrote "It seems like RMT's leadership is getting more and more desperate. Its strikes have little effect now so RMT must rely on another union." Indeed. Everyone saw this coming a year ago. RMT should have negotiated a positive solution early on. RMT members switching from being a conductor to an OBS have nothing to lose in the short to medium term. With no ability to cancel services through a strike they can say goodbye to above-inflation pay rises every single year, but frankly the railway is one of few industries that offers that and it is unsustainable from both a farepayer and taxpayer perspective.

BB   14/08/2017 at 09:42

I'm not an industry insider but my understanding is also that all the RMT OBS staff signed new contracts in 2016 and moved to the new working practices in January 2017. So as far as the OBS roles are concerned, the changes have already gone through and the staff have signed contracts which presumably means they have accepted the new conditions. And yet they strike ...

Add your comment



rail technology magazine tv

more videos >

latest rail news

FCA probe: TfL could be fined for not telling LSE about Crossrail delay

19/10/2018FCA probe: TfL could be fined for not telling LSE about Crossrail delay

The UK’s financial watchdog is considering whether to launch a formal investigation into TfL over its reported failure to tell the London S... more >
Urgent government talks after Dutch company plugs £80m funding hole in Greater Anglia

19/10/2018Urgent government talks after Dutch company plugs £80m funding hole in Greater Anglia

Greater Anglia has received an £80m rescue package led by the Netherlands, leading to reports of urgent talks between the UK and Dutch gove... more >
Grayling agrees ‘hybrid approach’ for December timetable shake-up to avoid more chaos

19/10/2018Grayling agrees ‘hybrid approach’ for December timetable shake-up to avoid more chaos

Transport secretary Chris Grayling has agreed to proceed with a proposed ‘hybrid option’ for timetable changes this December, the Rai... more >

editor's comment

23/01/2018Out with the old...

Despite a few disappointing policy announcements, especially for the electrification aficionados amongst us, 2017 was, like Darren Caplan writes on page 20, a year generally marked by positive news for the rail industry. We polished off the iconic Ordsall Chord (p32), hit some solid milestones on Thameslink (p40), progressed on ambitious rolling stock orders (p16), and finally started moving forward on HS2 (p14) ‒ paving the way for a New Ye... read more >

rail industry focus

View all News


Going global: an interview with Network Rail’s Leevan Finney

29/08/2018Going global: an interview with Network Rail’s Leevan Finney

RTM’s Jack Donnelly sat down with one of the leading minds behind Network Rail’s most advanced and innovative rail maintenance techno... more >
Transforming travel in the north west

06/02/2018Transforming travel in the north west

RTM’s Josh Mines talks to Robin Davis, head of new trains at TransPennine Express (TPE), about the huge rolling stock change journey the co... more >
Thameslink: Nearing the end of the line

23/01/2018Thameslink: Nearing the end of the line

RTM’s Josh Mines catches up with Mark Somers, project director for Thameslink, on how the final stages of the programme are progressing and... more >

last word

Encouraging youngsters to be safe on the railway

Encouraging youngsters to be safe on the railway

This summer, Arriva Group's CrossCountry and the Scout Association joined to launch a new partnership to promote rail safety among young people. ... more > more last word articles >

'the sleepers' daily blog

The East Coast franchise report tells us what we already knew: it was a bid set up to fail

18/09/2018The East Coast franchise report tells us what we already knew: it was a bid set up to fail

RTM's Jack Donnelly assesses what the Transport Committee's latest report on the VTEC franchise means for the industry as a whole “Eve... more >
read more blog posts from 'the sleeper' >


Northern Powerhouse Rail: The need for change

18/09/2018Northern Powerhouse Rail: The need for change

Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) will be transformational for the north – it will change the way people live, work, and play. It will rebalan... more >
Innovation through people and technology

18/09/2018Innovation through people and technology

Ian Prosser, HM chief inspector of railways and director of railway safety at the ORR, picks out the key industry challenges to focus on based on... more >
Why we all must mind the gap

18/09/2018Why we all must mind the gap

Clair Mowbray, chief executive of the National College for High Speed Rail (NCHSR), explains how we can all ensure the UK’s next generation... more >
3D printing: from virtual to real

11/09/20183D printing: from virtual to real

Like so many other technological advancements, 3D printing has moved from being the stuff of science fiction, through niche industrial applicatio... more >