Southern rail chaos continues: Talks to solve dispute between rail firm and union end with no deal

Rebecca Smith
Source: Getty

Talks aimed at resolving Southern rail strikes have ended without agreement.

A 24-hour strike, following a 48-hour one held by Aslef union earlier in the week, will go ahead tomorrow.

Nick Brown, chief operating officer of GTR, Southern's parent, said:

"We're deeply disappointed, as our passengers will be, that Aslef has been unable to accept our proposals and we have been cannot find a way forward to end this dispute with the drivers' union at this stage.

Read more: Southern rail strike chaos costs millions as 300,000 commuters stranded

"We're sincerely sorry that commuters work and family lives are being punished with this unjustified and unprecedented industrial action. The unions must stop the pain and suffering blighting passengers and commerce. We will continue with our plans to modernise our railway and the services we offer customers. We urge the union to think again and work with us and move forward together. Our door remains open".

An Aslef spokesman said the union hadn't expected a resolution today, and that it would be meeting the train company again next week.

Talks had been arranged at conciliation service Acas for yesterday and continued today, and while Aslef chief Mick Whelan said talks had been "positive" yesterday, there was no resolution today.

Strikes earlier in the week, over the introduction of driver-only operated trains, caused more trouble for long-suffering passengers as all Southern services were cancelled and passengers told not to travel.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union, which has been staging separate strikes intermittently for months, over changes to the role of conductors, also has more walkouts planned around Christmas.

Read more: Southern rail commuters offered a Christmas windfall

Yesterday, RMT leader Mick Cash said he'd been banned from attending the mediation talks. Cash said his members had been expecting discussions but instead "had the door slammed in our faces".

GTR said Aslef represented nearly 1,000 drivers, while the RMT only represented 12 and Brown said he'd told Cash the company would be happy to meet him later.

Planned strike dates:

  • Friday 16 December (Aslef & RMT drivers’ strike)
  • Monday 19 to Tuesday 20 December (RMT conductors’ strike)
  • Saturday 31 December to Monday 2 January (RMT conductors’ strike)
  • Monday 9 to Saturday 14 January (Aslef & RMT drivers’ strike)

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