Nine in ten Southern trains ran during strike
Almost nine in ten Southern trains ran during the strike by the RMT union yesterday (Wednesday February 22).
Rail operator Govia Thameslink Railway also said that more than half (54 per cent) of its on-board supervisors and conductor staff reported for work yesterday and worked normally.
The RMT’s latest 24-hour walkout was part of its dispute with GTR over the extension of driver-only operation to Southern services, which involves drivers opening and closing train doors.
During the strike 87 per cent of Southern trains ran.
The union has raised concerns about the potential loss of a second safety-critical member of staff on Southern services.
A Southern spokesman said: “We were pleased to be able to run most of our normal weekday service for our passengers during yesterday’s strike.”
Train drivers’ union ASLEF had negotiated a deal with GTR after talks brokered by the Trades Union Congress, but when balloted the majority of its members rejected the agreement.
Yesterday Mick Cash, general secretary at the RMT, urged the company to return to ‘meaningful’ talks.
He said: “Our members resilience for nearly a year now is a credit to the entire trade union movement.”
“These are local people fighting for safe railways for their local communities.”
In the House of Commons today (Thursday February 23), East Worthing and Shoreham MP Tim Loughton asked if the Government would introduce a new performance indicator to measure how often a train in ‘exceptional circumstances’ leaves a station without a second staff member.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling replied: “I’m very happy to look very carefully at that option.
“It is not my policy or the Government’s policy to remove people from trains. Ways of working are going to change in the future, but my view is we are going to need more people rather than fewer delivering services to customers on our railway as demand grows.”
Meanwhile Horsham MP Jeremy Quin asked ministers if the number and availability of on-board supervisors on Southern trains was increasing, and as a result if disabled passengers were experiencing a better service.
Rail minister Paul Maynard said: “I’m keeping a very careful eye on what is happening on GTR in terms of both official passenger assist bookings as well as unofficial book-and-go service.
“I know the Office of Rail and Road is conducting some mystery shopping exercises and I’m very keen to hear the outcomes of those although I want to make sure that all passengers who travel on GTR get the service they need from the on-board supervisors.”
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