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​Southern plans normal service on most routes during RMT strike

Press Release   •   Aug 25, 2017 11:18 BST

Southern is planning to run a normal service on most of its routes during the RMT’s strike on Friday 1 September and Monday 4 September, although the train operator is asking passengers to check before they travel for updates on the day.

Passenger Services Director Angie Doll said: “We plan to run more than 90% of our services during the RMT conductors strike on Friday and Monday but ask passengers to check before they travel.

“Passenger numbers have doubled in the past two decades giving us the most congested network in the country so we simply have to modernise the way we do things to keep people moving.

"We ask the RMT to reconsider the very good offers we have made, including job guarantees, and work with us to future-proof services for our passengers - most of whom simply want to get to their place of work each day.”

Southern and Gatwick Express run over 2,200 services on a non-strike day and most services will operate to the normal timetable.

Gatwick Express will operate a full service between London Victoria and Gatwick Airport / Brighton. Thameslink will also run a full service between London Blackfriars / London Bridge and Brighton.

A full Southern service will run except for those trains listed below:

  • West London line services will not operate
  • A number of services on other routes (predominantly Coastway services) will not operate
  • Some peak hour services between Ashford International and Hastings will not run
  • The four trains a day that run in each direction between Leatherhead and Guildford will not run

Full details of service changes can be found at

Passengers can claim compensation if they are delayed by 15 minutes or more at


Notes to editors
1. The RMT wants a guarantee that trains will be cancelled where, in exceptional circumstances, an on-board supervisor cannot join the train, even though the train can be safely operated by the driver on their own as it has been in two-thirds of the UK for decades.
2. This will be the union’s 33rd and 34th days of strike action.
3. The dispute to which the RMT’s April 2016 ballot related was whether conductors employed on the Southern network should be required to migrate to the on-board supervisor (OBS) role. On 7 October 2016 the RMT advised its conductor members affected to volunteer to take the OBS role and this happened on 2 January 2017. Furthermore, the RMT advised its members ahead of the ballot that Southern was, in effect, making 300 conductors redundant – no one has been made redundant.
4. The RMT has not formally responded to our last offer of 16 May 2017. This offer was formulated after intensive talks with Mick Cash and his team and provided:
• Guarantees on job security;
• Guarantees on staffing ratios;
• Guarantees on rostering of On-board Supervisors
• Enhanced training for new and existing staff and existing staff
5. Four formal offers have now been rejected by the RMT, not one of which has been put to referendum. Southern has invested 18 months of its time negotiating with the RMT and met for a total of 25 days to try to resolve this dispute.
6. The grounds of the RMT’s dispute have shifted over time, with many inconsistencies. For example:
• The RMT worked with GTR’s predecessors to remove on board staff from Gatwick Express trains;
• In March 2016, they stated that their ballot for industrial action was about the extension of DOO (Southern’s plans have been implemented); the introduction of the OBS role (now in place since 2 January 2017); and that Southern would make 300 conductors redundant (no one was made redundant);
• The RMT advised its affected members in October 2016 to accept the new OBS contracts;
• Former “Revenue” employees in Southern migrated to the OBS role and those in Thameslink and Great Northern have taken on a comparable role, with no objections from the RMT;
• The RSSB and ORR have stated that this is a safe method of operation;
• The OBS role improves Southern’s ability to look after customers, including disabled, elderly and vulnerable passengers – people whose needs the RMT claim are of paramount concern.
7. Extract from Gibb Report section 3.2.3 page 5
[The RMT's and ASLEF's] action is undermining the system, and its value to the country that funds it through fares and taxes. Whatever their motives, which are debatable, I do not support their action. They should influence changes to the system through engagement, such as improving customer service, the safe despatch and operation of trains, and Driver Only Operation. They can therefore play their part in growing the system, continuing to provide long-term job security and safe and improved employment conditions for their members. I believe they can achieve more for their current and future members in this way, than opposing the change to working practices that the extension of Driver Only Operation represents. The role of overseeing the safety of the passengers and employees rests legally with the duty holder and employer, GTR, and regulation and oversight is the responsibility of the Office for Road & Rail. Both bodies are legally obliged to consult with the trades unions on changes to working practices, and the unions should fully participate in the consultation. The fact that nobody is being made redundant or losing pay against their wishes, that there will be more GTR trains operating with two people on board, and that safe Driver Only Operation is already extensive in GTR, the UK and Europe, just serve to make this dispute more difficult to comprehend, especially for the passengers.

Govia Thameslink Railway

Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) operates Thameslink, Great Northern, Southern and Gatwick Express services as follows:

  • Thameslink – services between Bedford and Brighton, Luton/St Albans and Sutton, Wimbledon and Sevenoaks
  • Great Northern – services between London and Welwyn, Hertford, Peterborough, Cambridge and King’s Lynn
  • Southern – services between London and the Sussex coast (Brighton, Worthing, Eastbourne, Bognor Regis, Hastings) and parts of Surrey, Kent and Hampshire (Ashford International, Southampton, Portsmouth)
  • Gatwick Express – fast, non-stop direct services between Gatwick Airport and London Victoria

GTR is the largest rail franchise in the UK in terms of passenger numbers, trains, revenue and staff: GTR carries about 326 million passenger journeys per year, and employs around 6,500 people. Its aim is to improve services across all four networks.

Ticket revenue is passed to the government which pays GTR a fee to operate the franchise which is adjusted according to how well the train service is performing.

Southern has the highest passenger growth in the UK with numbers into London having doubled in 12 years - compared with the industry doubling over the past 20 years. To meet this growth and to future-proof the network, GTR is modernising the rail service for passengers.

GTR has introduced more new trains in the past year than all other franchises put together, with 500 new carriages so far.

The transformative £7bn Thameslink Programme will bring hundreds more daily services from 2018, increasing the number of trains though the central London core from up to 15 to 24 trains per hour. Network Rail has also launched a £300m programme to improve resilience across the GTR network

GTR is modernising how it works, with new technology in use at our stations and on our trains, smartcard ticketing and a new, flexible on-board role on many Southern services. This ensures fewer cancellations, and with more staff on board our trains now than ever before, passengers are enjoying a much better level of on-board customer service.

The GTR investment programme for stations includes funding for more CCTV, toilet refurbishments, new retail facilities, help points and car park improvements – as well as plans for increased motorcycle storage and improved transport integration.,,,