Back on track? Southern rail and the RMT are holding new talks in an effort to bring the year-long row to an end

 
Rebecca Smith
Will Southern rail and the union's relationship get back on track?
Will Southern rail and the union's relationship get back on track? (Source: Getty)

Fresh talks will be held between the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union and Southern rail in a bid to resolve the year-long dispute over changes to the role of the guard, the union said.

Talks will take place on Monday 24 and Tuesday 25 April.

Read more: Aslef drivers reject second Southern rail deal to bring dispute to a close

Mick Cash, RMT's general secretary, said:

The union welcomes the opportunity to engage with Southern rail in further talks. We would prefer the process to get underway sooner if that was possible.

We expect there to be no efforts to undermine these important talks from other parties and that they will be allowed to take place free from external interference.

A Southern spokesperson said: "We're pleased to be meeting the RMT later this month in a bid to try and find a route forward to end their dispute."

Southern rail passengers have suffered months of disruption as industrial action by train drivers' union Aslef and the RMT has caused chaos on the network for months. Action started in April last year, with Aslef joining at the end of 2016.

The train operator faced a setback to its efforts to end the dispute with Aslef as drivers rejected a new deal earlier this month.

The deal had been put to a members' referendum last month, meaning that if drivers gave it the green light, the dispute would officially be over. But, members of the union put the brakes on, with 51.8 per cent voting to reject the deal, from a 75.4 per cent turnout.

The row over the role of the guard has also spread onto other train operators, with the RMT holding a walkout on Southern, Northern and Merseyrail on the day of the Grand National, Saturday 8 April.

Earlier this week, Merseyrail said it had invited the union for fresh talks in the wake of the strike action. Managing director Jan Chaudhry-van der Velde, said: "We are keen to find a solution to this dispute and bring an end to strikes, which threaten the economy and reputation of the city region."

Read more: Complaints about Southern rail owner surge over 340 per cent in a year

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