The train conductor strikes explained

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With hundreds of commuter journeys disrupted across the South East, what were the train strikes about?

The key changes include drivers being responsible for checking doors using CCTV instead of conductors on the platform.

A statement on the Southern Rail website explained that the modern camera systems will do away with the need to rely on a second staff member on board.

In response, the union hit out at GTR over fears the new role will ‘compromise customer safety’.

In an open letter to passengers, the union stated: “The conductor role at present ensures a second safety critical person is on board your service, ensures that your travel/ticketing requirements are dealt with and that on most occasions the entire train is patrolled which has added significance in this era of heightened security concerns. This focus on safety and customer care is lost in the new role.”

Southern has refuted any claims the company is putting profit over passenger safety and emphasised that safety is an ‘absolute number one priority’.

No salary or job losses will be involved in the change-over period, according to the Southern Rail website.

At present, around 60% of the 3,000 train services run by GTR do not have conductors operating the doors, the company has said.

It is hoped that the changes will allow trains to operate more smoothly if fewer staff are required.

An average of 83 train services have been cancelled on a daily basis due to ‘staff shortages as a result of conductor sickness’, Southern Rail figures confirmed this week.

MPs from across Sussex have spoken out against the disruption and the delays have been branded ‘simply inexcusable’ by the minister for rail services.

The changes to conductor roles come after cuts to ticket office opening hours by Southern Rail sparked petitions across the county to keep offices open.

GTR, which runs the Thameslink, Great Northern, Southern and Gatwick Express airport services, had the lowest customer satisfaction ratings in the country in a survey by Which? earlier this year.

Full statements from RMT Union and Southern Rail can be found using the links below:

RMT Union letter

Southern Rail on first strike

Southern Rail conductor sickness figures

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