Southern to blame

08 December 2016

Mick Whelan, general secretary of ASLEF, the train drivers' union, has written to the Daily Telegraph today in response to a piece the paper published written by Nick Herbert, Tory MP for Arundel & South Downs.

Mr Herbert seeks to blame everyone for the failings of Southern Railways except those who are really to blame – the management team at the company, known to long-suffering passengers as Southern Failways.

We have done our best to reach a sensible and workable compromise with Southern in the interests of passengers and management) as well as of staff. We have always been happy to talk, and we have always believed it is, or should be, possible to do a deal – just as we did with ScotRail in Scotland –­ but it takes two to tango and the company has never been prepared to negotiate with us.

Because the company cares only about profit, and not about passengers. The company knows, as we know,that there are serious problems with the platform/train interface and that DOO,on these lines, is inherently unsafe.

It has been our policy for more than 15 years to try to eradicate driver only operation. DOO is old, not new, technology, designed for four-car 317s on the Bedford to St Pancras line in the early 1980s when it was all about managed decline at the fag end of British Rail. But an increase in the number of passengers we are carrying on the railway every day means there are 1,100 passengers on a 12 car train in peak travelling time and just two seconds to check 24 sets of doors and that’s simply not adequate to deal safely and properly with the travelling public.

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