England

Southern rail conductor sickness hits services again

Southern train Image copyright PA
Image caption Conductors now plan to walk out on 20 May

Continued "unusually high level of sickness" among train conductors has led to rail cancellations for a second day between Brighton and Southampton.

The RMT union said policy changes and the removal of staff benefits had caused an "enormous amount of stress".

A total of 16 services between Brighton and Hove, Lewes, West Worthing, Portsmouth and Southampton have been cancelled.

Southern Rail said it was "disappointed and frustrated" about the sickness.

The firm said other services would be cut short or delayed because of a "shortage of train conductors" and warned of further disruption later in the week.

'More routes affected'

In a statement, it added: "Southern services will be affected today due to a shortage of available train conductors. This will mean reduced journey options and it may be necessary to change trains to complete your journey.

"We have reviewed the service amendments we made on Wednesday 4 May and have revised our train service plans to provide better overall service. However, more routes on the Southern network are likely to be affected today."

The continued high levels of sickness comes as the RMT announced that two planned 24-hour strikes by conductors in a dispute over role changes and driver-only trains had been replaced with one walkout.

Members of the RMT union went on strike on 26 April and were due to walk out again on 10 and 12 May.

The union, which opposes a new on-board supervisor role and plans for drivers to operate doors, said there would now be one 24-hour strike on 20 May.

Operator Govia Thameslink said the planned changes would not lead to job losses or pay cuts.

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