Train bosses and the main drivers’ union have reached a second agreement after the first was rejected by drivers.
Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), parent company of Southern Railway, and Aslef today announced they have agreed new terms to settle their dispute.
The first deal, reached in early February, was narrowly rejected by Aslef members following a vote, thought to be because of a long list of occasions on which trains would run with no extra staff on board.
The details of this second deal are not being officially released but the unofficial @BrightonStation Twitter account this evening posted what it says is the latest agreement.
The list of occasions on which trains could proceed with only a driver on board have been cut from eight to five, with trains now not being able to run if the on board supervisor is late, if there are high levels of sickness, or if there is an emergency or civil incident.
Aslef members staged a series of walkouts through winter, which crippled services on the Brighton mainline with no Southern trains running between the coast and the capital.
The RMT, whose members are mainly guards who have been forced to take on new on board supervisor roles with no safety function, have been striking since April and are still staging walkouts. However, these have less impact as now that the role has been changed, trains are more easily able to run without them or with alternative staff.
Both unions have argued that not having a second member of staff on board poses safety risks to passengers – a claim disputed by the train companies, who say that in most cases trains will have a second member of staff on board anyway.
The government, which has come under fire for not doing enough to resolve the dispute, is now encouraging companies bidding for future franchises to come up with proposals for driver only trains.
The agreement will now be put to Aslef members in Southern in a referendum, with a recommendation from the union’s executive to accept. Subject to securing the support of Aslef members, the dispute between the union and Southern will be over.
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.
“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.”
The result of the referendum will be on 3 April. Until then, GTR and ASLEF intend to make no further statements.