RMT says Southern Rail Christmas truce ‘in government’s hands’

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A potential Christmas truce on Southern rail is ‘in the government’s hands’, the rail union RMT has said today.

The union has highlighted recent agreements on new government rail contracts elsewhere in the country, which they said ‘have retained conductors and provided an agreed method of train dispatch on new modern trains’.

They cite arrangements on the government’s Great Western, East Coast, and Transpennine Express contracts.

According to the RMT, the Great Western contract said ‘GWR is not proposing to introduce DCO or DOO operation on any additional lines of route’.

The East Coast contract said ‘within our discussions we have confirmed that the safety critical duties of the guard will remain on the train’, the RMT state.

The Transpennine Express arrangement said ‘all trains operated by the new Franchise will be conventionally door operated and will have a conductor’, according to the RMT.

The agreements are in addition to that achieved on the Scottish Government’s rail contract this year, the RMT said.

Mick Cash, general secretary of the RMT, said: “This year the government has already agreed three new rail contracts in other parts of the country which have kept the guarantee of the guard while introducing new modern rolling stock.

“All we are asking is for them to authorise a similar deal on its Southern rail contract.

“This would provide a basis for a Christmas truce on Southern and negotiations that will deliver passengers a win-win of new safe modern rolling stock whilst keeping the guarantee of their guard.

“I wrote to the transport minister, Chris Grayling, last week and I would be happy to meet him, informally and away from the media glare if that helps, to thrash out a workable solution to this longstanding dispute.”

He added that MPs have tabled a motion in parliament, arguing that the deals on the government rail contracts mean ‘the basis for a resolution to the Southern rail dispute exists’ and calls on the Government to ‘urgently meet the unions without any preconditions and before further strike action to explore how its contractor GTR can reach a similar deal with the unions’.

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