Belfast Telegraph

Southern workers stage fresh rail strike in row over role of conductors

Rail passengers face fresh travel misery today as workers stage another strike in the increasingly bitter row over the role of conductors.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union at Southern Railway launched a 48-hour walkout which will cause more disruption to services.

Southern said 62% of its normal timetable will run, with some additional trains compared to previous strike days, but there will be no services on some routes, and some stations will be closed.

The dispute remains deadlocked, with more strikes planned for next month, in the run-up to Christmas and over the new year.

Members of the drivers' union Aslef on Southern are currently voting on whether to strike over driver only trains, threatening more chaos.

Mick Cash, general secretary of the RMT, said: "Yet again the sheer pig-headedness of the company and the Government means that our members are being forced to take further industrial action in a bid to maintain a safe and secure service on Southern Rail.

"Over the past few days we have seen repeated chaos on Southern Rail services that has shown once again that they are simply incapable of running safe and reliable services. "

The only obstacle to their removal from their management contract is the Government who are calling the shots and pulling the strings behind the scenes while publicly claiming the dispute is between RMT and GTR (Southern's owners).

"It is total nonsense but is a tactic which is deliberately blocking any chance of progress. That blockage has to be cleared as matter of urgency.

"In the light of the continuing public anger at the absolute state of the Southern Rail operation it is disgraceful that neither the company nor the Government are prepared to engage and are continuing to attempt to impose driver-only operation in the interests of putting profit before safety. We call on them to get round the negotiating table rather than jamming their heads in the sand."

Southern's passenger services director Angie Doll said: "We are doing everything we can to provide as many services for our passengers as possible and I'm pleased that we're able to add more services this time to help passengers get where they need to go.

"We're sorry that once again our passengers are facing disruption through unnecessary industrial action. Over 99% of affected conductors have now signed up to the new role, which makes this strike even more pointless."

On routes where there is a reduced service, first trains may be later and last trains earlier than the normal timetable.