As East Sussex commuters could be looking at a glimmer of light towards an end of the ongoing rail dispute, one thing could be standing in the way.
Govia Thameslink Rail (GTR) and the RMT Union have been locked in a row over the introduction of driver-only trains at the expense of conductors for months, with the Union insisting that an on board safety trained staff member must be present on all services for passenger safety.
Earlier today (11 July), the Rail Minister, Claire Perry, said, “I do understand that train staff worry that the change to roles could be the thin end of the wedge. They are concerned that at the end of the GTR franchise a new operator might come in and reverse those promises.”
“I want to reassure staff that a busy, growing and successful railway will need more people, not fewer, to help passengers in future. The jobs those people do will be skilled and not dumbed down or contracted out. The Government, in specifying future franchises, will ensure that operators are committed to investing in the skills of their workforce, including of on-board staff. In return, I ask only that staff and unions help us to modernise and improve services compatible with the modern trains we are introducing for passengers.”
“There is no threat to safety, jobs or pay from the introduction of new trains and no excuse left for industrial action. This is now a big test for the RMT: are you on the side of passengers and employees, or needless disruption?”
However, the RMT has tonight told Eastbourne Buzz, that they are yet to receive any formal offer from the Minister and say they will not react or make any speculation until Ms Perry has contacted them direct.
Today saw the introduction of Southern’s emergency reduced timetable, which offers 85% of normal services. The company hopes this will enable them to offer customers a more reliable service. This afternoon, Southern said that 82% of the reduced timetable had run to time on it’s opening day, with most of the delays caused by a power supply to the track at East Croydon, affecting a fast service to London.
A Southern spokesperson said: “The changes we made today have, so far, delivered an encouraging start to what we wanted to give our passengers: a more robust timetable with more trains running to schedule at times when people need them the most.
“But while we cautiously welcome this news, it is early days and we also realise that what our passengers really want is for us to get back to our normal timetable as quickly as possible.”