The rail union in dispute with Southern claims it has photographic proof the rail operator is cancelling trains when the service is fully-staffed.
The RMT union issued an image today (June 17), posted on social media by passenger Cliff Heys-Limonard, which it said showed a driver and guard waiting to board the 1.03pm service from Brighton to Chichester on Wednesday (June 15).
The service was then cancelled due to ‘staff sickness’.
Mick Cash, RMT general secretary, said: “Passengers and staff alike are sick and tired of the Southern top bosses and the government trying to blame everyone other than themselves for the chaos that they have unleashed on Britain’s biggest rail franchise.
“Trying to lump the blame onto hard-working, frontline staff , who take the full force of passenger anger for cancellations and delays, is cowardly and despicable behaviour by this failing, rip-off GTR outfit and their cheerleaders in the government.”
However, GTR said the RMT union is wrong to claim the train company is deliberately cancelling Southern services and blaming it on a lack of train crew, including in the case of the 1.03pm service from Brighton to Chichester.
A GTR spokesman said: “This train was due to be taken over by a relief driver at Barnham, then resume its journey to Chichester. There was no driver available to take over at Barnham so this train had to be cancelled.
“There is absolutely no incentive for us to cancel trains unnecessarily – we are fined heavily every time this happens. Most of these spurious examples can be explained by missing train crew causing an earlier cancellation but with so much disruption, genuine mistakes are also bound to be made when telling our passengers what is going on.
“The simple fact is sickness levels among train crew is very high. Among conductors, the latest weekly rate is almost double the average. This, combined with reluctance now by drivers at some locations to work overtime on top of their standard four-day working week, is leaving us with a shortfall of train crew.
“The RMT can argue about this all they like. Our focus is on restoring the service we give our passengers. That cannot be achieved by unnecessary strikes, only by sensible dialogue.”
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