Rail jobs, staff issues and training

14.12.16

Southern, Aslef and RMT holding Acas talks over strikes

GTR has agreed to hold formal talks with unions at conciliation service Acas in a bid to resolve the dispute on Southern Rail that has left commuter services at a standstill.

Aslef announced the move on the first day of a 48-hour strike by its train driver members which shut down travel on one of the UK’s busiest commuter routes yesterday.

RMT also confirmed that general secretary Mick Cash will be attending talks this morning, which are understood to follow face-to-face conversations held between the three parties yesterday.

Charles Horton, chief executive of GTR, said of the plans last night:  “We reached out to Aslef as we said we would and now welcome the opportunity to discuss a way forward with them.

“The travelling public are suffering misery and inconvenience and the impact on the regional economy is significant. We assure everyone we are committed to trying to find a solution to the union’s dispute.”

Despite progress being made by the parties, drivers have still gone ahead with today’s strike and a further 24-hour walkout on Friday is still likely.

The action has closed all of Southern’s 2,242 weekday services, which usually carry 300,000 passengers every day, although limited Gatwick Express and Thameslink services are still running.

Aslef, the RMT and Southern have been under increasing pressure to settle the long-running dispute over DOO trains and changes to the role of guards.

Yesterday transport secretary Chris Grayling accused the unions of a “deliberate act of militancy”, suggesting he would consider banning strikes on the railways. However, the unions have denied that the strikes are politically motivated, instead citing concerns for jobs and passenger safety.

Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan said: “The strikes this week are not, whatever Mr Grayling tries to suggest, politically motivated.

“We have a trade dispute with GTR Southern, and only a poor government would seek to spin it any other way.”

GTR reported that many of Southern’s usual passengers look to have chosen not to risk further disruption today by not travelling to work.

A GTR spokeswoman said: “Our stations have been a little quieter than usual because passengers have been heeding our advice not to travel.

“The services that have run (on Gatwick Express and Thameslink) have been well-used and the services that we have put in place have operated well.”

The transport secretary has come under pressure for letting the dispute reach this stage with a commuter group planning a protest march from London Victoria station to the DfT on Thursday.

UPDATE 14:19 14/12: The RMT leader Mick Cash has claimed that GTR "barred" him from conciliation talks this morning despite GTR being aware that he would be attending.

Cash said: “RMT is furious at the complete contempt that has been shown to us by Southern rail this morning, which leaves us in a state of limbo when we should all be around the table thrashing out the issues that have led to the current action. 

“Our members were expecting discussions to take place today and instead we have had the door slammed in our faces. That is no way to rebuild the confidence of the workforce in the Southern management and the talks process and it is no way to reach a solution, which is what the public are crying out for.”

GTR's chief operating officer Nick Brown replied that GTR still hoped to speak with Cash later today although only Aslef has been invited to Acas initially to discuss the current drivers' strike.

UPDATE 09:45 15/12

Southern warned passengers that services would again be severely disrupted today after the Aslef strike finished.

Talks between Southern and Aslef adjourned last night and are due to resume this morning.

Angie Doll, Southern’s passenger services director, warned passengers that services would be “severely impacted” because Southern would not be able to get all trains and drivers in place after the strike ended at midnight.

She said passengers should expect “reductions and cancellations across all routes”.

Doll added that passengers should not travel again on Friday, when Aslef will go on strike again.

Southern services will be cancelled and Gatwick Express will run at intervals of half an hour instead of 15 minutes, although Thameslink services will run as normal.

Meanwhile, the ORR repeated its support for DOO as a safe method of working. A spokesperson said: “ORR has scrutinised this approach, and our inspectors are satisfied that with suitable equipment, proper procedures and competent staff in place, it is a safe method of working."

(Image c. Nick Ansell PA Wire)

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

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

rail technology magazine tv

more videos >

latest rail news

Verster to leave ScotRail for East West Rail

20/01/2017Verster to leave ScotRail for East West Rail

Phil Verster will be leaving his current position as ScotRail’s managing director, which he has held since 2015, to become the MD of the Ea... more >
Khan accused of lying over failure to extend TfL fares freeze to travelcards

20/01/2017Khan accused of lying over failure to extend TfL fares freeze to travelcards

London mayor Sadiq Khan has been accused of reneging on his pre-election pledge of a TfL-wide fares freeze after it was revealed that it would ha... more >
‘Transformational change’ in Wales franchise hinges on new trains and electrification

20/01/2017‘Transformational change’ in Wales franchise hinges on new trains and electrification

A committee of MPs has urged the Welsh and UK governments to end underdevelopment of the Welsh rail network, pointing to the new Wales and Border... more >

editor's comment

17/01/2017Rising to the digital demand

The countdown is well and truly on for this year’s UK Rail Industry Awards (UKRIA), and the whole RTM team is looking forward to welcoming you to the fourth edition of this event on 9 February.  Held once again at Battersea Evolution, the prestigious awards ceremony promises to be an extraordinary evening, celebrating some of the major achievements of the industry in the last year. You can see the awards shortlist on pag... read more >

last word

Making rail fares simpler

Making rail fares simpler

David Sidebottom, passenger director at Transport Focus, explains how a number of initiatives over the next 12 months aim to make rail fares simpler. By the end of 2017, we hope passengers w... more > more last word articles >

'the sleeper's' daily blog

Commuters close to taking government to court over Southern crisis

06/01/2017Commuters close to taking government to court over Southern crisis

A commuter organisation looking to take the DfT to court over its handling of the Southern rail crisis have said that their legal challenge is almost ready. The Association of British Commuters (ABC) hopes to submit its full application calling for a judicial review by the end of this month, after initially raising funds for the challenge on the website CrowdJustice last September. The group claims that the DfT has failed passenger... more >
read more blog posts from 'the sleeper' >

comment

Exhibitors prepare for France’s rail technology showcase

20/01/2017Exhibitors prepare for France’s rail technology showcase

Florence Gaidet from Mack Brooks gives RTM an update on what people can expect from SIFER 2017, France’s showcase for railway technology, p... more >
The data-driven railway

20/01/2017The data-driven railway

RTM speaks to James Dean, Network Rail’s director of route asset management (DRAM), LNW, about the work the infrastructure owner is carryin... more >
Achieving efficiency through standards

17/01/2017Achieving efficiency through standards

Vaibhav Puri, head of standards policy at the RSSB, attempts to bust the myths around standards, and argues that they will be vital to the tradin... more >
A digital railway for a modern Britain

17/01/2017A digital railway for a modern Britain

David Waboso CBE, managing director of Group Digital Railway, discusses using digital technology and how we must work together better as an indus... more >

rail industry focus

View all News

interviews

Investing in the future of Scottish Rail

15/11/2016Investing in the future of Scottish Rail

Phil Verster, managing director of ScotRail Alliance, speaks to RTM’s Luana Salles about the recently-published ‘Investing in the Fut... more >