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Southern to push ahead with DOO as RMT talks fail to reach agreement

Southern has vowed to move forward with its modernisation plans after talks with the RMT union over introducing driver-only operated (DOO) trains in the capital ended without agreement.

Last week, the RMT cut short its five-day strike as it re-entered negotiations with the operator at Acas.

However, GTR, the parent company of Southern, said a deal could not be agreed with the union. Last week, the operator proposed an eight-point plan deal, including have a second person on as many trains as today.

Angie Doll, GTR’s passenger services director, said: ‘’We have been talking to the union for nine months now and, despite several visits to Acas, the union won't agree a deal. Passengers will be rightly exasperated that the RMT won’t agree to what most fair-minded people would believe is an incredibly good offer. 

“The RMT’s position does not help our passengers at all. We have guaranteed to have a second person on as many trains as today, but the union is rigidly refusing our offer to agree a list of exceptional circumstances when we would be able to run our trains without a second staff member on board, such as during disruption to still get people home. This would create the crucial flexibility we need to ensure fewer cancelled trains for our passengers.”

Doll added that the RMT “has repeatedly” tried to play the safety card as the issue, but said it did not raise this issue at all during these latest talks.

She said that the eight-point proposal is still on the table, and “we urge the RMT to give this serious consideration”.

Doll added that over the coming weeks, GTR will be working closely with our staff we start to implement these vital changes. Under the new services, which are due to be introduced on 21 August, conductors can’t open the doors on trains.

Following the talks, RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “We had a golden opportunity in these talks to make some serious progress on the core issue of a second person on the train who would have protected the safety of passengers, delivered customer service and ensured access to services for those with disabilities or needing assistance.

“‎It's a bitter blow that a firm set of union proposals that could have allowed us to move forward were rejected out of hand. The matter will be discussed by the union executive this afternoon.”

Southern was recently forced to cancel 341 services a day in order to try and control the unexpected delays that have blighted the franchise, although it has since restored 16. The operator has refused to give a date for when its cancelled services will be restored. It said the revised timetable will operate “for a minimum three weeks” after the end of the strike on 12 August.

During the recent industrial action, Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, has reiterated his call for TfL to take over the Southern rail franchise.


Lutz   15/08/2016 at 19:58

Time to bring the matter to court; deliberate sabotage of the business by by militant factors within the Union. Bankrupt it and the members.

Gabriel Oaks   16/08/2016 at 12:53

Southern need to implement the changes if need be, taking the RMT head-on. As for the Mayor of London his seeking to use this dispute as a political move to gain control remains shambolic.

Bob Eastbourne   16/08/2016 at 13:57

As a long suffering Eastbourne commuter it is clear to me that there are some very serious structural failures within the Southern operating business such as poor maintenance of rail stock and services constantly running late. Taking on and breaking the unions appears to be a natural progression of the managements approach maximising returns at the expense everything else (including their client base). Furthermore I find the jingoism of the previous posts distasteful and unbalanced.

Jerry Alderson   16/08/2016 at 16:26

I critised RTM for failing to explain the ScotRail deal relating to the services that will switch from diesel to electric traction as part of EGIP. Having read the lastet issue RAIL Magazine it seems to shed some light on it. There are still things regarding dispatch to negotate between ScotRail and the RMT union but onstensibly it seems to be DCO (i..e. DOO+1) with a guarantee that no passenger service on a DCO service would ever operate with just a driver. Sothern (GTR) has also promised the unions that it would scheduled a second person on every train (that is not already DOO). It appears that the only difference between Scotrail and Southern is that Southerrn wants to agree a specific list of scenarios (i.e. exceptional cases) in which it could operate with just a driver. I have not seen that list published. Perhaps RTM could find out (more effort that copying and pasting a press release admittedly). As a passenger I would like there to be certain secnarios to get me to my destination by train rather than by bus or taxi. For example, if the second person (OBS) is taken ill on board I would not want to be stuck in a stationary train for an hour or more before another OBS arrived just because of a rule agreed with a union. I would be on Scotrail but hopefully Southern would be more passenger friendly.

Hugh Colton   17/08/2016 at 04:10

Let's face it the whole privatization shambles is about to blow up. All these snouts in the trough, financial institutions making money out of leasing trains, operators with overpaid third rate managers, profits going to overseas investors, questionable safety, and on and on. RMT should be congratulated, they've finally got the ball rolling on exposing this scandal. The interview on the latest Newsnight with the shadow transport minister raises serious questions about the whole rail industry. Just wait, a lot more will come out in the near future. Watch Dr B Ching's column in the Eye for more developments.

Johmm   17/08/2016 at 09:52

This dispute, like that with the NHS doctors, has been engineered by the Government. As such Southern will not be allowed to make a deal. The Government's aim is to reduce cost by eliminating jobs cross the industry regardless of the detrimental effects that might result. Demands to bring the company under public control are futile in the face of the Government's pathological hatred of publicly owned organisations even though these have time and again proved more efficient and more beneficial than anything the private sector (motivated only by profit) is able to offer.

David Fenner   19/08/2016 at 22:04

If we want to increase capacity on our commuter railways and improve time keeping then Drivers must work the doors. As a regular user of services both north (mostly DOO) and south (many with Guards operating doors) of the Thames it is noticeable how much longer station dwell time is whilst the guard checks the doors on arrival and more so on departure. The Govia approach of generally having two people on the train but with a pre-agreed set of circumstances when only the driver is required seems eminently sensible. get on with it.

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