Southern £2,000 lump sum back on table to end dispute


Southern: £2,000 lump sum back on table to end dispute

Image caption
Mystery travellers including a pensioner and blind passenger travelled on Southern trains

Southern has told union members a lump sum of £2,000 is back on offer if they end a dispute over conductors.

The rail operator has urged the RMT, which is planning a further 11 days of strikes before Christmas, to put its offer to a referendum of members.

It comes after a pensioners” group warned driver-only trains that stop at unstaffed stations could be committing an offence under the Equality Act.

Southern said meeting accessibility needs was fundamental to its plans.

The National Pensioners Convention (NPC) said a “mystery traveller” experiment in August revealed problems for pensioners or passengers with mobility problems.

Its report was published just hours ahead of another three-day strike by the RMT union on Southern Railway.

Strike dates announced by the RMT:

Southern is introducing driver-only operated trains and has offered existing conductors new roles as on-board supervisors.

The NPC said “mystery travellers” including a wheelchair user, a blind passenger and a pensioner took a series of train journeys on Southern from East Croydon to Chichester and back to test the practicalities of travel.

Its report highlighted concerns over the lack of toilets on some trains, the absence of a ramp at one station, lack of platform staff and poorly-sited help points.

It also noted some “excellent” examples of well-trained drivers, guards and other staff.

Dot Gibson, NPC general secretary, said: “Everyone will be aware of the dispute currently taking place on Southern Rail over the future of guards and driver-only trains, but up till now no-one has explained how these changes could affect those passengers with mobility problems.

“Our concern is that if a driver-only train runs to an unstaffed station with a passenger who is unable to exit the train unassisted, an offence will be committed under the Equality Act 2010 by putting that person at a substantial disadvantage.”

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Industrial action over the role of guards has caused months of disruption on the Southern network

A spokesman for Southern said the new on-board supervisor role provided the opportunity to improve support for disabled passengers.

“All staff will have dedicated accessibility training supported by new ways of working across teams,” a spokesman said.

“In line with the requirements of the Equality Act 2010, adjustments will be in place to ensure that any passenger requiring accessibility assistance to reach an unmanned/partially manned station will be supported in doing so without unreasonable delay or inconvenience.”