Services on the Southern Railway franchise have been disrupted again as members of the Rail Maritime and Transport (RMT) union held a new 24-hour strike in an increasingly bitter dispute.
The strike over Southern’s attempts to move trains to driver only operation (DOO) by changing the role of conductors (guards) has led to a large number of cancellations on Wednesday 18 May.
Southern runs services to and from London Victoria
The company, which runs trains from London Victoria and London Bridge to and from destinations in Surrey and Sussex, said it expects to run around two-thirds of its 2,100 services today, with no service on several routes and only a limited service on others until around 6pm.
It has hit out at the RMT for what it claimed was a refusal to negotiate on the changes it is making to the conductors’ role.
Dyan Crowther, chief operating officer of Govia Thameslink Railway, which runs the Southern franchise, said: ‘Despite repeated efforts over six months, the RMT union seem unwilling to talk properly about this. Our door remains open to talks but they seem determined to inflict another day of misery on Southern commuters. It's time for them to come back to the negotiating table, and talk sensibly about these changes.'
The company also claimed that the changes would ‘significantly reduce the perennial problem of train cancellations due to conductors not being available’.
In return, the RMT has hit back at what it called Southern’s ‘deliberate campaign of misinformation’ over staff shortages.
General secretary Mick Cash said: ‘The hard fact is that this company does not employ enough staff to fill the rosters and is carrying significant levels of vacancies.
‘They do that because it saves them money and allows them to pump up the profits which can then be shipped across the Channel to subsidise their operations in France.’
He added: ‘It is scandalous that the company have blocked attempts to reach a negotiated settlement and it’s about time they stopped the lies, and the bullying and the intimidation of their safety-critical guards, and started serious and meaningful talks with the union.’