RMT Southern Rail Strike

Southern Railway workers will stage the final day of a 72-hour walkout today in the bitter dispute over the role of conductors, with further industrial action planned.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) were said to be ``standing firm'' during the three-day stoppage, which has led to the cancellation of hundreds of trains.

The latest strike will end at midnight tonight.

The union is planning further strikes in the coming weeks, including one on Bonfire Night, which will affect people going to the popular bonfire event in Lewes, Sussex.

The long-running row between the two sides remains deadlocked, and disruption could get worse because of threatened action by Southern's train drivers.

Aslef is to ballot its members for strikes over driver-only trains, raising the possibility of joint strikes with the RMT in December.

Mick Cash, leader of the RMT, said: ``RMT thanks the travelling public for their support and understanding as our members demand that passenger safety be put before private profit.

``Southern Rail need to get out of their bunker and start serious and genuine talks with the trade unions.''

TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said Southern should stop blaming unions for ``its own failures''.

She added: ``Southern should not be gambling with passenger safety. Having a properly trained guard on board is the very least commuters deserve.

``Passengers will be at a loss to understand how a company that has been cancelling so many rail services can generate such massive profits and not be held to account by the Government.

``The travelling public deserve a much better deal.''

Charles Horton, chief executive of Govia Thameslink Railway, which owns Southern, said in response to the TUC: ``This is simply scaremongering.

``We'll have a second person rostered to work on every train that has one now - in fact they'll be on more trains. They will still be trained to assist elderly and disabled passengers, provide direction in emergencies and keep order.

``They will not be involved in the dispatch of the train because on modern trains the driver can do this - it's how a third of the UK's trains have operated for over 20 years.

``The changes we are making will provide passengers with better on-board customer service and fewer delayed trains.''

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