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Southern promises to restore cancelled services by end of month

Southern has promised to fully restore the services it had to cancel in the summer by the end of October, it has been revealed.

Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), Southern’s parent company, announced in July that it was cancelling 341 services a day to try to gain control of unpredictable delays.

It has restored some services since, but said it will now restore 63 services from 24 October, including the full West London Line timetable and 34 West Coastway services to destinations such as Hove, Bognor, Barnham and Worthing.

GTR’s CEO Charles Horton said: “I’m delighted for our passengers that we will be restoring more services to the timetable. This is what our passengers deserve and I thank them for their patience during what has been a difficult time for everyone. 

“Clearly the industrial relations issues we have are, regrettably, continuing, but we are pressing ahead with our plans and are committed to delivering a better service for everyone.“

GTR will then restore 46 services between Brighton and Southampton and Hastings and Ashford from 31 October. This will complete the restoration of all Southern services removed as part of the revised timetable introduced earlier this year.

However, it said it will cancel 33 Gatwick Express services until 12 December to try to reduce congestion and reactionary delays on the Brighton mainline route during autumn leaf-fall.

The company also warned that from 24 October to 9 December, weekday Southern and Gatwick Express trains arriving or departing from London Victoria or  London Bridge and Thameslink trains from Three Bridges to Brighton and from Brighton to London will have their journey times extended by one to three minutes.

Horton said: “Challenging conditions during the autumn mean that train services across the country become vulnerable to poor weather and slippery rails, compromising performance and certainty for passengers. We, like other train operators in the UK, are taking steps to reduce the risk of disruption during the period.”

A Transport Select Committee report, published last week, said that there had been “serious inadequacies” in the government’s scrutiny of the transfer of Southern to GTR.

RMT cancels strike because of request from British Legion

Separately, RMT has cancelled a day of strike action on Southern following from a request from the Royal British Legion.

The charity, which provides help for armed forces personnel and veterans and their families, asked RMT to call off its 3 November strike because it would overlap with London Poppy Day.

The Royal British Legion said the strike could disrupt plans for the day, when 2,000 volunteers will sell poppies in London in the run-up to Remembrance Day, raising an estimated £1m.

A spokesperson for the charity said: “We recently placed a request with the RMT to reconsider the date of proposed strike action as our volunteers are present at train and tube stations across London, therefore strike action on that date would have a detrimental impact on our ability to fundraise for our much needed work in support of Service personnel, veterans and their families.”

Mick Cash, general secretary of RMT, said: “The union recognises the very special importance of that particular day and as result has agreed to suspend the action planned for 3rd November.”

RMT announced a 14-day programme of industrial action after five previous strikes failed to reach a resolution in a dispute over plans to introduce driver-only operated (DOO) trains on Southern.

The union was originally due to strike on 3-5 November, and Cash said it would strike on 4 and 5 November as planned, followed by strikes on 22-23 November and 6-8 December.

A three-day strike which began this week is due to conclude today. In addition, drivers’ union Aslef announced yesterday that it will conduct its own strike ballot.

A spokesperson for Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), Southern’s parent company, said: "We are pleased that the RMT has called off its strike on London Poppy Day, November 3, but disappointed that they are still planning to push ahead with the strike action planned for November 4 and 5 which will inconvenience thousands of commuters and families trying to enjoy bonfire night.

“We repeat our call for the RMT to see sense, end this futile action and put our generous offer to a referendum of its members.”

(Image c. Lauren Hurley from PA Wire and Press Association Images)

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Martin T   20/10/2016 at 18:26

Obviously cancelling a strike day to help the Royal British Legion will make the RMT look good. I personally doubt it is the case - because I doubt the RMT knew about RBL's activities on 3 Nov - but a cynic might think that the RMT deliberately chose that day as an 'edge' day of the strike in order to cancel it.

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