Not a great way to start 2017 with further disruption to rail passengers getting to work.
The dispute is about passenger safety with the introduction of driver-only operation on trains. There is a lack of platform staff to help passengers on and off the trains so further talks are needed on finding a satisfactory solution to this long running dispute.
Chris Grayling, the transport secretary, has admitted that there are other issues with Southern in running the franchise with poor performance on late trains, lack of staff etc
The RMT and the drivers’ union, Aslef. have agreed to attend talks but there was no reason to call off the train drivers strike. No trains will operate on the Southern network next Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday and there will also be major disruption on Thursday from the knock-on effects of the strike and a continuing overtime ban.
Grayling seized on a report by the rail regulator, the Office of Rail and Road, which declared that Southern’s driver-only operation would be safe, “with suitable equipment, proper procedures and competent staff in place”, giving recommendations that Southern has promised to implement. The transport secretary has commissioned ORR’s Ian Prosser, the chief inspector of railways, to set out principles to be applied nationally – potentially pre-empting further disputes on other franchises.