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You are here: Home > Southern > Business as usual planned on most Southern routes during RMT strike

Business as usual planned on most Southern routes during RMT strike

Date: 03 Oct 2017

Southern is planning to run a normal service on most of its routes during the RMT’s strike on Tuesday 3 October and Thursday 5 October, with a limited service on the West London Line, although the train operator is asking passengers to check before they travel for updates on the day.

Passenger Services Director Angie Doll said: “We are aiming for business as usual on most of our routes during the RMT strikes next week.
“The RMT is striking about changes we made almost a year ago as part of our modernisation programme. Nobody has lost their job over this, in fact we employ more on-board staff to help passengers than we did before, and we are providing a better service with fewer cancelled trains.
“We are operating on the busiest part of the network so it’s essential that we use modern technology to keep trains running for the benefit of our passengers – not cancel them as the RMT insists.
“We’ve spent 18 months negotiating with the RMT and met for 25 days. We’ve made four good offers to resolve this dispute yet the RMT has rejected them all without even putting them to their members for a vote.”
On Board Supervisors are just one part of the programme to modernise the railway including substantial investment to address rising passenger demand and provide greater journey opportunities. The other key elements include the upgrade and expansion of London Bridge, Blackfriars and Farringdon, and longer platforms for new trains. Passengers will also benefit from greater track capacity and signalling for a more reliable journey.
Southern and Gatwick Express run over 2,200 services on a non-RMT strike day and most services will operate to the normal timetable.
Gatwick Express will operate a full service between London Victoria and Gatwick Airport / Brighton. Thameslink will also run a full service between London Blackfriars / London Bridge and Brighton.
A full Southern service will run except for the following:

  • Only a limited West London line service will operate
  • A number of services on other routes (predominantly Coastway services) will not operate
  • Some peak hour services between Ashford International and Hastings will not run
  • The four trains a day that run in each direction between Leatherhead and Guildford will not run

Full details of service changes can be found at
For more information email or call Southern and Gatwick Express press office: 0203 750 2030
Notes to editors
1. We’ve met the RMT for a total of 25 days to try and resolve their dispute; we’ve made 4 formal offers, all rejected without referendums
The RMT wants a guarantee that trains will be cancelled where, in exceptional circumstances, an on-board supervisor cannot join the train, even though the train can be safely operated by the driver on their own as it has been in one-third of the UK for decades.
2. This will be the union’s 35th and 36th days of strike action.
3. The dispute to which the RMT’s April 2016 ballot related was whether conductors employed on the Southern network should be required to migrate to the on-board supervisor (OBS) role.  On 7 October 2016 the RMT advised its conductor members affected to volunteer to take the OBS role and this happened on 2 January 2017. Furthermore, the RMT advised its members ahead of the ballot that Southern was, in effect, making 300 conductors redundant – no one has been made redundant.  
4. The RMT has not formally responded to our last offer of 16 May 2017.  This offer was formulated after intensive talks with Mick Cash and his team and provided:
•           Guarantees on job security;
•           Guarantees on staffing ratios;
•           Guarantees on rostering of On-board Supervisors
•           Enhanced training for new and existing staff and existing staff
5. Four formal offers have now been rejected by the RMT, not one of which has been put to referendum.  Southern has invested 18 months of its time negotiating with the RMT and met for a total of 25 days to try to resolve this dispute. 
6. The grounds of the RMT’s dispute have shifted over time, with many inconsistencies. For example:
•           The RMT worked with GTR’s predecessors to remove on board staff from Gatwick Express trains;
•           In March 2016, they stated that their ballot for industrial action was about the extension of DOO (Southern’s plans have been implemented); the introduction of the OBS role (now in place since 2 January 2017); and that Southern would make 300 conductors redundant (no one was made redundant);
•           The RMT advised its affected members in October 2016 to accept the new OBS contracts;
•           Former “Revenue” employees in Southern migrated to the OBS role and those in Thameslink and Great Northern have taken on a comparable role, with no objections from the RMT;
•           The RSSB and ORR have stated that this is a safe method of operation;
•           The OBS role improves Southern’s ability to look after customers, including disabled, elderly and vulnerable passengers – people whose needs the RMT claim are of paramount concern.
7. Extract from Gibb Report section 3.2.3 page 5
[Union] action is undermining the system, and its value to the country that funds it through fares and taxes. Whatever their motives, which are debatable, I do not support their action. They should influence changes to the system through engagement, such as improving customer service, the safe despatch and operation of trains, and Driver Only Operation. They can therefore play their part in growing the system, continuing to provide long-term job security and safe and improved employment conditions for their members. I believe they can achieve more for their current and future members in this way, than opposing the change to working practices that the extension of Driver Only Operation represents. The role of overseeing the safety of the passengers and employees rests legally with the duty holder and employer, GTR, and regulation and oversight is the responsibility of the Office for Road & Rail. Both bodies are legally obliged to consult with the trades unions on changes to working practices, and the unions should fully participate in the consultation. The fact that nobody is being made redundant or losing pay against their wishes, that there will be more GTR trains operating with two people on board, and that safe Driver Only Operation is already extensive in GTR, the UK and Europe, just serve to make this dispute more difficult to comprehend, especially for the passengers.
Govia Thameslink Railway
Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) operates Thameslink, Great Northern, Southern and Gatwick Express services as follows:

  • Thameslink – services between Bedford and Brighton, Luton/St Albans and Sutton, Wimbledon and Sevenoaks
  • Great Northern – services between London and Welwyn, Hertford, Peterborough, Cambridge and King’s Lynn
  • Southern – services between London and the Sussex coast (Brighton, Worthing, Eastbourne, Bognor Regis, Hastings) and parts of Surrey, Kent and Hampshire (Ashford International, Southampton, Portsmouth)
  • Gatwick Express – fast, non-stop direct services between Gatwick Airport and London Victoria

GTR is the largest rail franchise in the UK in terms of passenger numbers, trains, revenue and staff: GTR carries about 326 million passenger journeys per year, and employs around 6,500 people. Its aim is to improve services across all four networks.
Ticket revenue is passed to the government which pays GTR a fee to operate the franchise which is adjusted according to how well the train service is performing.
Southern has the highest passenger growth in the UK with numbers into London having doubled in 12 years - compared with the industry doubling over the past 20 years. To meet this growth and to future-proof the network, GTR is modernising the rail service for passengers.
GTR has introduced more new trains in the past year than all other franchises put together, with 500 new carriages so far.
The transformative £7bn Thameslink Programme will bring hundreds more daily services from 2018, increasing the number of trains though the central London core from up to 15 to 24 trains per hour. Network Rail has also launched a £300m programme to improve resilience across the GTR network
GTR is modernising how it works, with new technology in use at our stations and on our trains, smartcard ticketing and a new, flexible on-board role on many Southern services. This ensures fewer cancellations, and with more staff on board our trains now than ever before, passengers are enjoying a much better level of on-board customer service.
The GTR investment programme for stations includes funding for more CCTV, toilet refurbishments, new retail facilities, help points and car park improvements – as well as plans for increased motorcycle storage and improved transport integration.,,,