Southern and RMT to hold talks to end conductors' strike

Passengers waiting on a platform
Image caption Passengers were warned to expect "difficult and frustrating" journeys

Talks to prevent a further strike by Southern rail conductors are to be held on Friday.

A 24-hour walkout by members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union, in protest at the introduction of driver-only trains, ended at 11:00 BST on Wednesday.

Southern warned passengers to expect "difficult and frustrating" journeys throughout the day.

Two further strikes have been announced for 10 May and 12 May.

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The RMT confirmed it would attend talks with Southern "over the guards jobs and safety dispute" on Friday.

Dyan Crowther, chief operating officer for Southern owner Govia Thameslink Railway, told BBC Sussex: "We are very pleased to hear that and we look forward to meeting the RMT".

Image caption Dyan Crowther of Govia Thameslink Railway said rolling stock was out of place on Wednesday

Southern said some routes were again suspended or reduced with 700 fewer services across Sussex and east Surrey.

Ms Crowther said the timetable would not return to normal until Thursday as they needed to get rolling stock and staff into the right position.

Southern rail strike: Affected routes

  • The Brighton to London line has a reduced timetable
  • A significantly reduced service on the Bognor Regis/Littlehampton-Three Bridges, Chichester-Brighton, Eastbourne-Brighton, Gatwick-Purley and East Grinstead-East Croydon lines
  • No Southern trains at all on the Tonbridge-Redhill, Dorking-Horsham, Oxted-Uckfield, Eastbourne-Ashford International and Lewes-Seaford lines

Paul Barker, a commuter from Rye, normally catches a Southern train to Ashford then a high-speed service to St Pancras.

He said he worked from home on Tuesday but went to Robertsbridge on Wednesday to catch a Southeastern service to London.

He said: "It was standing room only from Frant, but you cannot take two days off work".

Image caption The RMT said there was "rock-solid support" from its members

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: "This dispute is about safety. The company, with an eye on ever-fatter profits, is prepared to axe the guards on some of the most overcrowded and potentially-dangerous services."

The company said there would be no job or pay cuts but the planned changes would make conductors more visible while drivers would operate doors.

It accused the RMT of "scaremongering" and said "driver-only operation is a safe, proven way of working" which had been used "on 40% of trains across the Southern network for 25 years".

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