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Aslef starts overtime ban as Southern launches ‘resilient’ interim timetable

Members of Aslef will begin their overtime ban on Southern services today, as its leadership stated that it reflected the “total loss of trust” between drivers and their employer.

From today (Thursday 29 June) Southern drivers who are part of the union will stop working overtime indefinitely in a bid to force the operator to change its stance on the roll out of driver-only operated (DOO) trains.  

It follows members voting in favour of the ban last week, meaning that a potential deal with Southern broke down for the second time this year.

A Southern spokesperson has stated that the ban would be “very inconvenient” for passengers and communities, as it announced that a new timetable was being implemented to help services cope with a reduction to staff.

Passenger services director Angie Doll said: “This action is going to be very inconvenient to our passengers and communities, but by putting in this revised timetable we will be able to run a more reliable and consistent service. 

“We've been safely running our trains with drivers closing the doors on additional routes since January and have had six months of sustained improvement in service levels and positive passenger feedback. 

“We urge Aslef to put an end to their industrial action and allow passengers to get on with their lives.” 

But Aslef argued that its drivers only work overtime on a voluntary basis, and that Southern’s staffing problems were down to decisions made by the operator’s leaders.

“The shortage of train drivers is wholly down to a lack of recruitment by Southern rail who have made no effort to recruit drivers over many years, a point echoed by the government commissioned Gibb report last week,” said Mick Whelan, general secretary of the union.  

“In fact, responsibility lies with GTR/Southern’s managing director Charles Horton who has run the company and its predecessors on the cheap for nearly a decade and has always put the interests of shareholders ahead of those of passengers and taxpayers.

Paul Plummer, chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group (RDG), representing Network Rail and TOCs, said that Aslef’s action would cause unnecessary disruption, as he called for the two parties to try and sit down to resolve the dispute.

“Together, Southern Rail and Network Rail are implementing a long-term plan to make journeys better on one of the busiest parts of Britain’s railway,” Plummer stated. “Whilst every stop is being pulled out to keep passengers moving, Aslef’s action risks unnecessary disruption to passengers’ lives, damaging local economies and putting at risk recent improvements to train services.

“Now is the time for the unions to come together and work with us as we connect communities and invest to improve journeys and create a stronger, more secure, skilled workforce with more opportunities for everyone.”

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