Southern rail has buckled down for today's latest strike action and said it remains on track to run over 70 per cent of its trains.
That means more than 1,600 trains will run today – and Southern has reiterated its pledge to return a full service from tomorrow.
The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union has pressed ahead with a 24-hour walkout, saying the action by guards was "solid and absolutely determined" this morning. General secretary Mick Cash has voiced his anger over the union's "exclusion" from talks being held between Southern and train drivers' union Aslef.
"The union repeats its demand for Chris Grayling and the company to get out of their bunker, stop the mud slinging and give RMT and our guards members access to the same talks process that has been set up by the TUC for our sister union," he said.
Aslef suspended industrial action planned for the week after Southern agreed to new talks. It has also put its overtime ban on hold.
Angie Doll, Southern's Passenger Services Director, said: "The RMT is continuing with industrial action that is now pointless. Because of the changes we've now finished making we're able to run 200 more services – a further 10 per cent increase than previous RMT strike days – on more routes serving more passengers."
She added that the train operator remained "ready and willing" to meet for fresh talks to bring an end to the dispute over the role of the guard and so-called driver-only operated trains.
The RMT said it had written to the Trades Union Congress (TUC) – whose leader, Frances O'Grady, chaired the talks – in hopes of being involved in the discussions. But it wasn't included.
A TUC spokesperson said: “Aslef asked us to intervene in its dispute with Southern Rail, which is separate to the RMT’s dispute with the company. Right now we are focused on trying to resolve Aslef's dispute.
“We are of course keen to assist RMT in any way we can and will maintain close contact with them.”
The following routes – previously suspended on an RMT conductor strike days – are operating today:
- Eastbourne – Hastings
- Chichester – Portsmouth and Southampton
- Lewes – Haywards Heath
- Coastway stations (including Bognor, Littlehampton, Eastbourne, Worthing and Hastings) will regain a direct service to London
- Routes that previously finished early in the evening will also now run much later