Passenger journeys on Southern have risen in the past 5 years and demand is set to grow on our busy network. To keep up with this increasing demand and the rising expectations of our customers we are aiming to modernise how we do things at our stations, on board our trains and behind the scenes. Our aim is to make things easier for you, our passengers.
We want to improve the on-train customer experience and our service reliability and so we are consulting with the Union on our plans to change the way we operate trains and provide our customers with better on-board service.
Our proposal is that in order to do this, many conductor roles and all revenue protection roles would evolve to the On-Board Supervisor role, which would focus on helping passengers with service information, checking tickets and offering assistance. The role would no longer require the operation of the train doors, a responsibility which would pass to the driver, which is how 60% of our services work already.
The aim of the new role would mean that on-board staff would be more flexible and customer focused. The result would be that more people on more services would see someone on their train and staff would be able to offer better customer assistance.
If we were to evolve the role of some of our conductors, it would make staff more visible and available to move through the train offering assistance. It would also give us the flexibility to deploy staff where they were most needed, and improve resilience during times of disruption.
A significant number of Conductor roles would remain, as there are certain routes which still require door operation by a second person in addition to the driver, but all other existing conductor and revenue protection roles would be replaced by the On-Board Supervisor role, which focuses on customer service.
We have been trying to consult with the RMT regarding our proposals, but, unfortunately, it has decided to hold a ballot which began on April 6 calling for industrial action.
Any industrial action would be unnecessary and counter-productive and only harm the very people the railway is looking better to serve. We are, therefore, continuing our engagement with the trade unions, and believe that any issues they have about our plans are best resolved through dialogue and discussion.
We have given our staff who would be affected by these changes a commitment that there will be no compulsory job losses, nor any loss of salary from these changes. Our plan is to introduce the role of On Board Supervisor from the end of July 2016, with an increased focus on customer services.
In the meantime, we will continue do everything we can to avoid industrial action on these routes as we know how disruptive it would be for our customers. If industrial action cannot be avoided, we will strive to offer the best possible service we can for our passengers and update this website with information nearer the time with useful facts about journey options and ticketing.