Southern Railway strikes deal with UK's biggest drivers' union over driver-only trains

Agreement comes a month after Aslef members turned down an earlier proposal

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The Independent Online

A fresh deal aimed at resolving a long-running row between Southern Railway and the biggest train drivers’ union has been agreed.

Leaders of Aslef are recommending acceptance of a new agreement following weeks of talks over a bitter row about driver-only trains.

A previous proposal was surprisingly turned down by Aslef members last month, but the union’s leaders say the new agreement offers solutions to all their concerns.

A new ballot will be held among Aslef’s 1,000 drivers on Southern, with the result due on 3 April.

Aslef said it had agreed new terms following talks over the past three weeks with officials from Southern's owners, Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR).

The Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) is also in dispute with Southern over staffing and whether trains should always have a second, safety-critical, member of staff.

RMT members have taken 30 days of strike action – the latest on Monday – and its disputes over staffing have now spread to Merseyrail and Arriva Trains North, where industrial action was also held this week.

Mick Whelan, general secretary of Aslef, said: “Aslef members now have the opportunity to decide on the new terms of the agreed resolution with GTR Southern.

Southern Rail strike explained

”This agreement has the full support of the negotiating team and the executive committee, and offers solutions to our concerns, as well as restoring the confidence of all parties, and the travelling public.”

GTR director Andy Bindon said: “We've had constructive talks with Aslef and we're pleased we've been able to secure a recommended deal, subject to approval from its members, to end their dispute.

“It's been an extraordinarily difficult period for passengers, staff and the regional economy and we are glad we've found a way to move forward together.

“We look forward to restoring good industrial relations with Aslef.”

Members of Aslef have taken six days of strike action in recent months which crippled Southern services.

The union banned overtime which also caused huge disruption to Southern's 300,000 passengers.

Mick Cash, leader of the RMT, said: “RMT has not seen the detail of the proposed outline agreement between GTR and Aslef and we are of course requesting a full copy as it goes to the heart of our disputes with the company.

“In the meantime RMT is pressing yet again for urgent talks with the company in our guards and drivers' disputes.”

PA

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