Theresa May has blasted Southern Rail strikers for heaping fresh misery on commuters

Mark Sands
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RMT workers are currently engaged in a five day strike (Source: Southern)

Prime Minister Theresa May has condemned Southern Rail strikers for heaping “misery” on commuters, while also insisting she wants to work with the franchise's owner to improve service.

Southern Rail RMT members began a five day strike earlier today, arguing that passenger safety is being compromised by plans for train drivers, rather than guards, to operate doors.

But May has now followed her rail minister in slamming the strikers, with her spokeswoman saying today that the industrial action would “cause more disruption and misery for passengers”.

Read More: How firms can deal with disruption caused by the Southern Rail strike

London mayor Sadiq Khan has called for Transport for London to be put in charge of the Southern Rail franchise.

However, Downing Street said that such a move may make the situation worse for commuters.

A spokeswoman for May said that the government is determined to continue working with Southern owner Govia Thameslink Railway.

“I don't think it is as simple as changing the operator. That would create more uncertainty and risk delaying work that is already underway to improve the service,” they said.

Southern commuters could face a second strike later this summer – the TSSA will ballot staff in September over a similar walk out.