RMT anger as Southern trains axe on-board trolley service

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Southern rail company has been attacked for ending an on-board trolley service when a new franchise starts on some of the country’s busiest routes.

The firm, which runs commuter and other services from London to Eastbourne and Brighton, said most passengers bought food and drink at stations.

The on-board trolley service will end on Sunday (July 26), when Southern joins the Govia Thameslink Railway franchise.

A Southern spokesman said: “The popularity of station coffee shops and food outlets has steadily increased as we have invested in and developed our stations over the past few years with the majority of passengers opting to purchase food and drinks before they board their train.

“The number of customers who want to use the on-board trolley service tells us that this is no longer our customers’ preferred service and so our current on-board trolley service will end on July 26 when Southern Railway joins the Govia Thameslink Railway franchise.”

The Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) said 70 staff would lose their jobs, adding they had been given just a few days notice.

General secretary Mick Cash said: “This disgraceful move is an attack on both our low paid members and the services that they provide to the travelling public and we are calling for it to be halted immediately before the staff are thrown out of their jobs.

“This brutal assault is being driven through with just a few days notice and makes a mockery of consultation processes and the very basic duty of care to employees. The fact that is all bound up in the franchising process speaks volumes about how rail privatisation impacts on staff and passengers alike in the drive for profits.

“RMT is taking further advice and will do everything in our power to protect our members.”The union said Southern, and catering firm Rail Gourmet, were treating the workers ‘like dirt’.

Gatwick Express and Southern are joining Great Northern and Thameslink to operate under one company, Govia Thameslink Railway.

The Southern spokesman added: “We are working with Rail Gourmet to explore the possibility of helping any of their staff find employment with us going forward.”

A spokesman for Govia Thameslink Railway said: “Bringing Southern, Gatwick Express, Thameslink and Great Northern into one franchise allows us to invest heavily in a better service for passengers.

“We’ve already brought in new trains on the Brighton Mainline and, as one company we’ll be able to completely recast this route’s timetable in December to give passengers a more reliable service.

“We’re introducing nearly 1,400 new train carriages, new routes, and 10,000 additional morning peak seats on crowded services into London with a 50% increase in capacity.

“Smartcard ticketing will be extended and many of the stations will get a makeover, too, with more than £50 million being spent on everything from improving access to free wi-fi access. We’re also increasing staffing hours with 100 of our busiest stations staffed from first to last train.”

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2015, All Rights Reserved.

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