Govia Thameslink Railway has called for fresh talks with the union to address concerns over the role of train guards.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union announced a five-day strike yesterday by conductors due to start on August 8.

Govia Thameslink Railway, which owns Southern, has asked the conciliation service Acas to facilitate talks the RMT.

The RMT is embroiled in a long-running dispute over the role of conductors, as plans to use new trains where doors are operated by drivers have raised concerns that the role of the train guard is being phased out.

Govia's chief operating officer Dyan Crowther said: "The RMT's claims we have refused to engage with them are simply not true.

"Passengers have been suffering daily disruption ever since the RMT began this unnecessary action and should not be forced to suffer five days more, all because the RMT is refusing to work with us and modernise the railway for the benefit of our passengers.

"We have guaranteed all our on-board staff a job, as valued members of our future operation, with no reduction in salary.

"We value the work of our staff, who are trying their best to deliver service levels that passengers expect.

"The sooner we can introduce the essential modernisation that our railways desperately need, the sooner we will address the current capacity and performance issues and deliver a better service for our passengers."

Southern services have been delayed or cancelled for weeks because of the dispute and staff shortages, blamed by the company on high levels of staff sickness.


The union is protesting at moves to change the role of conductors from August 21.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said "This action has been forced on us by the arrogance and inaction of Govia Thameslink and the Government who have made it clear that they have no interest in resolving this dispute or in tackling the daily chaos on Southern.

"Our fight is with the company and the Government who have dragged this franchise into total meltdown. We share the anger and frustration of passengers and we cannot sit back while jobs and safety are compromised on these dangerously overcrowded trains.

"It is disgraceful that neither the company or the Government are prepared to engage and are looking to bully through the extension of driver-only operation and the attack on the guards set for 21st August.

"They should wake up and get round the table now as an urgent priority."

Mr Cash said: "RMT officials have already cleared the diaries and are available for serious and genuine Acas talks, which is exactly what we have been calling for.

"On top of that we repeat our offer in good faith to suspend action if the company agree to suspend the planned changes to the safety critical role of the guard.