Commuters face major disruption as conductors set strike date

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Southern Rail says it will cancel services across Sussex next week as rail unions go on strike over plans to scrap conductors.

RMT conductors will hold the first of three 24-hour walk-outs from 11am on Tuesday, April 26 until 10.59am on Wednesday (April 27).

During the strike Southern will not be running services between Eastbourne and Ashford International, between Lewes and Seaford or between Dorking and Horsham.

It has also cancelled services from Chichester to Portsmouth Harbour and Southampton Central as well as from Dorking to Horsham, Haywards Heath to Lewes and Oxted to Uckfield.

Services from Preston Park to Hove, Clapham Junction to Milton Keynes via Kensington Olympia and Redhill to Tonbridge have also been cancelled.

No Southern trains will stop at Earlswood, Salfords and Faygate stations.

Southern trains between Redhill to Reigate will be also be cancelled, although Great Western Railway services will operate on this route as normal.

Southeastern services will operate between St Leonards Warrior Square and Hastings as normal, as will services between Southampton Harbour and Southampton Central and between Havant and Portsmouth.

There will also be limited services at all stations between London Bridge and Three Bridges, as well as at all stations between Crawley and Chichester.

All stations between Brighton and Bognor Regis and Brighton and Eastbourne will also face delays.

The strike comes as the rail company moves to replace conductors with on-board supervisors, a new role which would focus on helping passengers with service information and checking tickets instead of safety responsibilities such as operating train doors.

Speaking earlier this week, Dyan Crowther, chief operating officer for Govia Thameslink Railway, the owners of Southern Railway, said, “This strike is completely unnecessary. No staff will lose their jobs or see a reduction in their salary, while passengers will benefit from having more visible staff on trains.

“Drivers have operated the doors on many trains for 25 years, and already do so on 60 per cent of our services. This is a proven, tried and tested way of operating rail services.”

RMT oppose the operation of driver-only services and replacing conductors with on-board supervisors, which they say will affect around 300 RMT members.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said, “RMT, supported by our ASLEF colleagues, is wholly opposed to the attack on the safety-critical conductor grades and the threat of Driver Only Operation. Our members on Southern GTR have given loyal and professional service to the company and are being rewarded by being forced into a new grade, having their role and responsibility reduced and their hard-earned terms and conditions attacked.

“The anger at the threat to RMT members’ jobs, their role and the safety of Southern services is reflected in this massive vote for action which will now be considered by our executive.

“This company has already axed catering services, threatened ticket offices and delivered appalling levels of customer service in their drive to milk these routes for every penny they can regardless of the impact on safety, reliability and quality. It is no wonder they are the most hated rail franchise in Britain and the threat to the conductors is just another twist of the knife.

“These trains are desperately over-crowded and the conductors are the eyes and ears preventing a major tragedy on the platforms and carriages.”

RMT plans to stage further strikes from Tuesday, May 10 to Wednesday, May 11 and from Thursday, May 12 and Friday, May 13.

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