Commenting, Nick Brown, Chief Operating Officer of GTR, Southern’s parent, said:
“We came to today’s meeting hopeful we could find a way forward to end the RMT’s dispute and we’re saddened it’s ended so prematurely. The travelling public will find the union’s obstinate refusal to engage in meaningful and constructive talks disappointing, disheartening and increasingly destructive. Over the past year the RMT has had 28 days of strikes on this one issue, we’ve seen in excess 20,000 trains cancelled as a result, thousands of journeys disrupted, people’s work and family lives badly impacted and the cost to the regional economy is in excess of £300m.
“Conductors in the RMT union transferred to the new customer service role (On-Board Supervisor) from the beginning of last month and are now operating effectively in that role. Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Rail - the highest industry authority in the land - also says that drivers in sole control of the train is a safe method of operation.
“So the conclusion that most reasonable people will reach is that the RMT is seeking to hang on to its power to cancel trains. We’ve fully implemented our modernisation programme with the driver opening and closing the doors and a second person focused on customer service on our trains. Everyone is sick and tired of the RMT’s strikes and their pointless and intransigent stance needs to stop, and stop now.”
Note to Editors:
Southern agreed a deal with the leadership of the ASLEF, the drivers’ union, on 2 February under the auspices of the TUC. The agreement includes there being a second person (OBS) on every train that previously had a conductor booked to work, including a safety critical task to assist the driver dispatch the train should that be necessary. Both parties have also agreed a list of exceptional circumstances when a train can run without that second person (OBS), so that passengers are not inconvenienced by having a train cancelled. Drivers are currently voting on the agreement and the result is expected on Thursday 16 February.