Southern Railway set to receive 'Christmas bonus' from the Government despite months of commuter misery

RMT union says train operator, not the taxpayer, should provide replacement buses when conductors walk out on New Year’s Eve

Ben Chapman
Wednesday 21 December 2016 18:43
Further strikes are planned in January over a dispute regarding the role of conductors and driver-only trains
Further strikes are planned in January over a dispute regarding the role of conductors and driver-only trains

Southern Railway is set to receive an unlikely “Christmas bonus” despite months of travel chaos and commuter misery, union bosses have said.

Conservative MPs have discussed putting on replacement buses for Southern’s passengers who face further disruption when 1,000 members of the Aslef union walk out next month.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union said Southern’s parent company, Go-Ahead, which also runs bus routes, should supply its own replacement services. Go-Ahead will benefit from the provision, it argues.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “It is bad enough that the nature of the Southern/GTR contract means that as each week of this fiasco goes by the taxpayer is losing millions of pounds in lost revenue while GTR’s owners continue to get paid and are laughing all the way to the bank.

“Now we know that not only are Southern’s owners being paid to lay on bus replacement services, they are also set to get a Christmas bonus from implementing Theresa May’s PR stunt.

“The Prime Minister needs to focus the Government’s efforts on strike solving, not PR stunts and strike breaking.

“The basis of a settlement is in RMT’s proposal for a Christmas truce whereby the Government authorises a similar deal on Southern to that which has been agreed on its other rail contracts this year and which guarantees a second safety critical member of staff on their trains.”

Rail minister Paul Maynard confirmed in a Parliamentary question that the Government is considering laying on the buses for long-suffering commuters who have been hit by repeated strikes. Southern is embroiled in a dispute over changes to the role of conductors, and driver-only trains.

Another wave of RMT conductor strikes is due to start on New Year’s Eve, followed by an Aslef and RMT drivers’ strike from 9 to 14 January.

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