Southern Rail Crisis


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Southern Rail Crisis

Jo Coburn presents a debate on on the crisis in the railways of the south east. The Southern Rail strike is Britain's worst in 20 years and has caused misery for commuters.


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Transcript


LineFromTo

Hello.

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Exasperated commuters, unhealthily packed trains,

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and companies forced out of business.

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Britain's worst rail strike in 20 years has meant misery for hundreds

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and thousands of people and tonight we are hosting a debate

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on the crisis on Southern Rail.

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The train fares are going up but the service has been not

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been getting better.

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The trains are ridiculous.

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I don't know who's right and who's wrong.

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Somebody has got to sort it out or something is going to have

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to change and negotiate.

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I try to empathise with why they are striking.

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If the company gets round the table and we can hammer out a deal then

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we can call off these strikes and get back to work.

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We will try to get you onto the train.

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It's really difficult to negotiate with another party who don't

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understand compromise.

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I don't think the Prime Minister has any idea of the level of suffering

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and pain that rail passengers and businesses are suffering.

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There is only one body responsible for the current strike.

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This is a strike from the trade unions.

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Let me start by introducing our panel.

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Mick Lynch is the assistant general secretary of the RMT.

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Mr Lynch has said he is sorry that people have had to put

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up with strike action but it is for the company

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to get round the table and we can hammer out a deal.

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Well, the man who says he is more than happy to hammer out a deal

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with the unions is stood right next to Mick Lynch, and is

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Charles Horton, the chief executive of Southern.

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Huw Merriman MP is an influential member of the Transport Select

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Committee, and we also have Caroline Pidgeon, chair

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of the London Assembly's Transport Committee.

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Now, without further delay, to coin a phrase, our first question

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is from Dominic Morgan, a health care consultant from Hove

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who commutes to Hammersmith.

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As a daily commuter from Hove to London, I'm forced to stand

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on packed trains when services are cancelled due

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to industrial action.

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The other day I saw an 85-year-old man sitting on the floor

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because he couldn't physically get to the priority seats

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just a few feet away because the train was so packed.

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Do you acknowledge that your industrial action is causing

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unprecedented disruption to the lives of ordinary working

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people like myself and is also causing far more safety incidents

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than would ever happen due to driver operated doors,

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and how do you justify this?

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Thank you.

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This question goes to the very heart of this dispute.

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Southern wants to bring in something called driver

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only operated trains, DOO, where the driver rather

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than the conductor opens and closes the doors.

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It is an argument that has been destroying people's lives

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for the past eight months because the company,

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the union and the government cannot agree whether driver only operated

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trains are safe.

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Now, Mick Lynch, you note the regulator has said

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that it is safe, so why are you striking?

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To answer the gentleman's question, I am sorry and I am aware

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of the unprecedented disruption and I do not want that to happen.

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I want a settlement to this dispute based on a common-sense

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approach from both parties, and we think that is available right

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now, this afternoon, if Charles wants to go outside

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and draft something up with me.

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That settlement is available immediately.

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What is stopping the settlement is the attitude of the company

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towards changing the way that the trains are operated.

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There are two modes of operating trains available

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to this company to run.

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Earlier last year, they chose to implement and then impose

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a change to driver only operation.

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We believe that is unsafe.

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It is not about opening and closing doors.

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That is one element of a conductor's role.

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It is about an entire suite of safety critical competencies,

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including evacuation, emergencies, fires, collisions.

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All sorts of incidents which could happen on the railway

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where a safety critical second person is vital to the welfare

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of the passengers guaranteed to be on board.

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That is what the dispute is about.

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You have accepted that the rail regulator has said that driver only

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operated trains are safe.

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I accept they have said they are safe but they haven't

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said they are safer.

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They have never at any stage in this period said they are safer

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than running with two people on board.

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Two safety critical people.

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But there are trains which already run with just drivers.

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How many accidents have been on those trains?

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30% of the services in Britain run with a driver only

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operation operation.

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The majority mode in Britain, the orthodox mode, is running

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with two people on board.

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The safety critical record of the driver only operation is not

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as good as with a second person.

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Trap and drag incidents on platforms are going up.

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We had the incident at Watford a few weeks ago where trains collided

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and the driver was incapacitated and trapped in the cab.

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They couldn't move.

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Let's put these things to Charles.

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The guard evacuated that train, evacuated people, took care

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of people that were injured, and coordinated the

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emergency services.

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That has got nothing to do with doors.

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That is about having a competent person on board

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to take care of the public in emergency situations.

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Charles Horton, are you going to remove that second person

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from Southern trains?

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We are not.

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I will come onto that...

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You are.

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If I can start by saying, I am deeply sorry for the inconvenience

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caused to customers now and I think the union's action is grossly

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disproportionate and I also think they are causing immeasurable damage

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not only to passengers but also to the regional economy as well

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and it is an appalling situation.

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Coming back to the question you have asked me, no,

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we are not removing a second person from the train.

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Yes, you are.

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In fact, there will be...

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Hang on a second, Mick Lynch.

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Let him say his piece and we will come back to you.

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There will be a second safety trained person...

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Not safety critical.

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On more trains...

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Guaranteed on every train?

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Let him speak.

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Goodness sake.

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Are they guaranteed on every train?

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Let him speak.

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There will be a second safety trained person on more trains

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than there were at the start of this dispute.

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Do you take any responsibility for this crisis?

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For this dispute?

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It cannot all be the union's fault.

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We are doing our level best to take this dispute sorted and right

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throughout this whole process we have put a number

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of compromises on the table...

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What are they?

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To try and get...

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What are those compromises?

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We put an 8-point plan to the RMT which was intended

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to settle the dispute.

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It gave guarantees around jobs, guarantees around pay,

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guarantees for the future about how we would work.

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I'm afraid they were unwilling to compromise.

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Hang on a second.

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Wait a minute.

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Because the compromise that has been put to you is that the second

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person will be guaranteed.

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The second person, according to Charles Horton,

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unless you think he is lying, is that a second person will be

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guaranteed on the trains.

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We will come to the safety critical point in just one moment.

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Do you accept that?

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Charles Horton will not guarantee a second person on every train.

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Tell the public you are going to guarantee a safety critical

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person on every train.

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Let him answer.

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Look into the camera and say it.

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What we have guaranteed is that we build roster a second

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-- What we have guaranteed is that we will roster a second

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safety trained person on as many trains as had them before...

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LAUGHTER.

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He won't say it.

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Will you allow me to finish?

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Go on.

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A second safety trained person on as many trains as we had

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before this started.

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In fact, we have recruited 100 additional people to make

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sure that we do this.

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And on top of that, what we will make sure is that those

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second safety trained people are better able to look

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after customers, because, freed up from operational tasks,

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they are much better able to get through trains

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and look after customers.

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Collect revenue.

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Which is what customers say they want.

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Before I go back to the panel, and certainly to Huw Merriman

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and Caroline Pidgeon, let's just hear a few more personal

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stories from the audience.

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If we can go to Emma Green from Littlehampton, who has

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quit her job due to the strike.

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Can you give us your story?

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I started a new job in London, commuting.

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I had been a commuter before so it wasn't new to me.

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I am a single mum with an eight-year-old son.

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In June when I started, literally from the first day,

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I experienced horrendous delays, getting home on average 2.5 hours

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after I'd left in office, and as bad as 4.5 hours.

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With an eight-year-old son, a 3-, 4-, 4.5-hour

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journey isn't acceptable.

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So by July I had quit my job and taken a job closer to home,

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losing myself ?7,000 a year and therefore putting my family

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finances at risk as well.

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But I did that so I could see my son because you could not get me

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home on time to do so.

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Right.

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So my question to the panel is how many more people's lives

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have to be affected?

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How many more have to leave their jobs, lose their jobs

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and have their family life significantly disrupted

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as a result of your services?

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May I just add, these are not purely down to strikes?

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They were bad before the strikes started.

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APPLAUSE AND CHEERING.

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Well, you can hear the strength of feeling.

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The rights of passengers have got to be far more important than this

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cheap political point-scoring that we have heard this evening

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and I feel so frustrated, as a Southern passenger myself,

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I know the pain, Emma, you are going through,

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worrying whether you're going to get there to pick up your child on time,

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if you are even going to make the nativity play,

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because the driver doesn't show up for the train.

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I am living this with you every day, and thousands

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and thousands of passengers.

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It is really affecting people on modest incomes.

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If you are a higher earner, you may well be able

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to work flexibly from home, but actually it is those people

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who have got to go in to do the shift at the hospital,

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the shift at the shop, they are the ones who are so

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affected by this and are powerless with this dispute going on.

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There were issues before.

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Let's not beat about the bush.

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GTR were very poor in terms of driver recruitment and I have

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raised this many times with Charles and I know they are recruiting more,

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but the unions have got to get a grip on this and get

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round the table and come up with a deal because we are all suffering,

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including your members will be suffering with their

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pay packet being cut.

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May I just say, this is not a choice between having a second safety

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trained person on the train or not.

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We are saying that there will be a second safety trained person

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on these trains and we are also saying that there will be more

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trains with a second safety trained person on them.

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That is the case.

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Before I come back...

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When I sit opposite him in the negotiating room,

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that is not the case.

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What he says is, I cannot guarantee a person on every train and I am

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going to run the trains without that second person.

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I put it to you, Charles, if you guarantee that second

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person on every train, we can get an agreement.

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Every train that runs.

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Can you guarantee that?

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Then what we will do, we will define what that

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person does, jointly, together, along with Aslef, we will

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define what that person's role is.

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Most employers in this country, as far as I know,

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when they are paying the same wage for the same job, they want that

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person to do as many tasks, take on as many

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responsibilities as possible.

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Let Charles Horton answer.

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They refuse to do that.

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They will not agree to guarantee...

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Let him answer.

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If they do that, we've got a deal.

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Can you guarantee that?

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So, to repeat what I've said to Mick Lynch in private

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and in public is that we are going to have a second safety trained

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person on more trains than at the start of the dispute.

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That is...

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What I will also say is that in certain predefined circumstances,

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if we cannot get a second safety trained person to that train,

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we will let that train go and we will get that person to that

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train as quickly as possible, because what that means is that

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customers suffer fewer delays, fewer cancellations, and fewer

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disruptions to their journeys.

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That is what they tell me they want.

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Are those weasel words by Charles Horton?

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Are those weasel words or do you think that really

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constitutes a genuine offer, a change from what has

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been going on?

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I do, but I should just say I can understand why

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the audience is so confused.

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You sound like you're getting two conflicting points here.

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What we have come to, and I have a lot of sympathy

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with the unions...

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I had a huge amount of sympathy with the unions on decision

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-- I had a huge amount of sympathy with the unions on this issue

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because I wanted a second member on the trains.

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But if it is safe for a train to dispatch without that second

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person on board then I didn't want my train on Southern to be

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cancelled, and that is what this really comes down to.

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So what Southern have said is that in exceptional circumstances

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they would want that train to roll.

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My point to the unions was you should have a sit-down

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and draw out an agreement on what those exceptional

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circumstances are, but they are refusing to do so.

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That is what I find so frustrating.

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Exceptional circumstances should be where if the second member of staff

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is stuck further down in Dorking and the train has to go

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and then pick him up then it continues to roll.

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When it comes down to it, if Southern are putting more second

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members of staff on board, and not only that, rather than them

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being stuck on one carriage, opening and closing doors,

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they can go and spend time with customers,

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sell tickets, reassure, look after safety, then this

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strikes me as better than what we had previously.

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But they are not safety critical.

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Right, OK, at that point, let's talk to Huw Merriman

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a little bit about the role of the government, or the lack

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of intervention by the government, as some people would put it.

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We asked Chris Grayling, the Transport Secretary,

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and the Rail Minister, Paul Maynard, to take part

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tonight but they declined.

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Should they have been here?

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Should they have been here, Huw Merriman, to answer

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the questions and the very tragic, actually, in some cases,

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stories of people in the audience.

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I think one of the difficulties is that if you also have a member

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of the government here then you will end up with three people

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having quite a bit of a bunfight.

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I stand here before you as a member of the Transport Select Committee

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to try and bring a little bit of balance and sort of some

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technical ideas into this particular debate, so of course I can't speak

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for them but, when it comes down to it, we are told this

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issue is about safety, it is not about politics.

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Therefore there has to be a technical solution for this rather

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than a political intervention.

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It is certainly the case that the government ministers

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are highly focused, they work very closely with Southern to try to come

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up with some of these proposals, so this guarantee on jobs,

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and this guarantee on pay and indeed pay rises is one such idea.

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Have we been let down by the government on this issue?

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Shouldn't they have intervened earlier?

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Again, you talk about intervention but it is not the government

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that is refusing to drive trains which the independent safety

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regulator has decreed are safe.

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have

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have Southern Rail with their track record.

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This isn't one of the disputes, look back in the '80s where you had

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a similar dispute in terms of time, the miners dispute where

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you were looking at jobs being lost and an industry in decline.

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This is an industry where passenger numbers have doubled and pay

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and jobs have been guaranteed for the length of this franchise.

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This is nothing like it.

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It's hard for the government to come up with more.

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The question may be whether Parliament has to give

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the government more powers in legislation to bring

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this matter to an end.

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Mick Lynch, are you declaring war on the government?

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Is this a bigger power play to try and injure or bring

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down a Tory government?

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No.

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As your colleague said, well, the RMT president,

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Sean Hoyle reportedly said any trade unionist with any sense wants

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to bring down this bloody working class-hating Tory

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government, do you agree with him?

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Sean Hoyle doesn't speak for the RMT.

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This is about this dispute and this dispute is about safety.

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Huw wants to give us guarantees about money and jobs,

0:15:490:15:52

we don't want those guarantees in this context, we want

0:15:520:15:54

a settlement on this dispute.

0:15:540:15:56

The dispute is being intervened in everyday by the government

0:15:560:15:58

because they are preventing a settlement because they want

0:15:580:16:00

to extend DOO all over the network and extend this principle,

0:16:000:16:03

set a principle.

0:16:030:16:06

They run this company directly, with Charles as their agent.

0:16:060:16:09

Are using this as a campaign to protect your jobs

0:16:090:16:11

and protect public services?

0:16:110:16:12

No.

0:16:120:16:13

Sean Hoyle was speaking out of turn?

0:16:130:16:15

He is not correct in the context of this dispute, no.

0:16:150:16:18

Right, so he was wrong.

0:16:180:16:19

Does that stoke the fire of a wider political gain.

0:16:190:16:22

He has been quoted out of context.

0:16:220:16:23

How can you be quoted out of context?

0:16:230:16:25

He was speaking about another dispute a few months ago.

0:16:250:16:28

This context is that Chris Grayling is happy for this dispute

0:16:280:16:31

to carry on because he wants to smash the unions.

0:16:310:16:33

His senior official in the DFT has gone on record in a meeting

0:16:330:16:36

like this, saying it.

0:16:360:16:38

He used to work for Southern as a director, by the way.

0:16:380:16:44

We could get a settlement if they would come to the table

0:16:440:16:47

and say they guarantee a second person on every train.

0:16:470:16:49

Caroline Pidgeon, you would like to see Southern

0:16:490:16:51

stripped of the franchise?

0:16:510:16:56

I absolutely would and I would like to see Transport

0:16:560:16:59

for London running the suburban metro services over the next

0:16:590:17:01

few years and the other franchises within London.

0:17:010:17:03

We have seen where Transport for London run franchises in London

0:17:030:17:06

they have a company running it at a fixed price and they take

0:17:060:17:09

the fares risk, but we get fully staffed stations.

0:17:090:17:11

Isn't that what we want to see?

0:17:120:17:13

Fully staffed stations is what we want to see,

0:17:130:17:15

so people with disabilities can turn up and go.

0:17:150:17:18

The audience are heckling about the fact that

0:17:180:17:20

there is no evidence that

0:17:200:17:21

Transport for London would do a better job.

0:17:210:17:23

There have been three Mayors and they have all been dogged by RMT

0:17:230:17:26

strikes on the London Underground and it continues.

0:17:260:17:29

Absolutely, we have threats of strikes and strikes are happening

0:17:290:17:34

all the time but I really think in terms of suburban rail services,

0:17:340:17:37

having Transport for London and the Mayor directly

0:17:370:17:39

running those services, able to respond to local

0:17:390:17:42

concerns and having fully

0:17:420:17:45

staffed stations from first to last train it transforms the network

0:17:450:17:48

and we don't have that with some of the train operators at the moment

0:17:480:17:52

and I would like to see that in London and it really would help

0:17:520:17:56

people with mobility issues so they can turn up

0:17:560:17:58

and use any rail service like the rest of us.

0:17:580:18:00

Let's hear from Tim Loughton who has spoken about the company

0:18:000:18:03

and said it is a shambles.

0:18:030:18:04

Do you believe that they can resolve this dispute or they should be

0:18:040:18:08

stripped of their franchise?

0:18:080:18:09

I have no problem with them being stripped of the franchise

0:18:090:18:12

but the franchise was defective in the first place, frankly.

0:18:120:18:15

Nobody comes out of this strike well.

0:18:150:18:16

APPLAUSE.

0:18:160:18:20

The franchise is too big to handle, it is almost a quarter of the

0:18:200:18:24

train-travelling public in this country.

0:18:240:18:29

I doubt whether any of the other train operating companies

0:18:290:18:32

could handle it in its current form and it needs to be broken up

0:18:320:18:35

and whether GTR remain in control of half of that I don't know

0:18:350:18:39

but the thing that is completely undermining any train operating

0:18:390:18:42

company running the service at the moment is a completely

0:18:420:18:44

unreasonable strike action.

0:18:440:18:45

It is crazy when we have Thameslink trains running

0:18:450:18:47

between London and Brighton, who are driver door only operator

0:18:470:18:56

trains and have been for some time without any safety considerations,

0:18:560:18:58

calling at the same stations on the same lines, and yet RMT

0:18:580:19:01

and Aslef are saying it would be safe for Southern

0:19:010:19:05

and Aslef are saying it wouldn't be safe for Southern

0:19:050:19:07

trains to do the same.

0:19:070:19:12

It is a complete and utter nonsense and what it comes down

0:19:120:19:15

to is a highly political strike.

0:19:150:19:16

What do you say to that?

0:19:160:19:18

It's a nonsense and you are exploiting the situation according

0:19:180:19:20

to Tim Loughton and other members of the audience.

0:19:200:19:22

Our members that live in Eastbourne and Horsham

0:19:220:19:24

and all the other depots are not raving militants,

0:19:240:19:27

the way they have been described, they are ordinary men and women,

0:19:270:19:30

career railway workers, who worry about their passengers.

0:19:300:19:32

That is why they are on strike and why they have been out for 28

0:19:320:19:35

days now and why they have turned down Charles Loughton's bribe.

0:19:350:19:39

days now and why they have turned down Charles Horton's bribe.

0:19:390:19:42

What the gentleman asked over there...

0:19:420:19:44

Why is it a bribe?

0:19:440:19:45

He said if you go away and be quiet we will give you ?2,000.

0:19:450:19:49

But that's not what he said.

0:19:490:19:51

But that's what he offered with his eight-point plan

0:19:510:19:54

we wouldn't take it.

0:19:540:19:55

Is that a bribe?

0:19:550:19:56

In the end is this a wider discussion for you and the unions,

0:19:560:19:59

about protecting jobs that aren't being taken away?

0:19:590:20:01

We'll go to Charles Horton and then come back to you. We made a

0:20:010:20:04

comprehensive eight-point offer which covered guarantees on jobs

0:20:040:20:06

and guaranteed methods of working and talked

0:20:060:20:08

about the training that we would give people.

0:20:080:20:10

Part of it was an offer...

0:20:100:20:12

We didn't ask for those.

0:20:120:20:13

If I may.

0:20:130:20:14

To help people through the transition.

0:20:140:20:16

We did say you can have a payment of ?2,000 to help you

0:20:160:20:19

with the transition.

0:20:190:20:20

Do you think you owe an apology to all the users of these routes?

0:20:200:20:23

I do apologise, but Charles must apologise as well.

0:20:230:20:25

He apologised at the beginning.

0:20:260:20:27

I do apologiese for the disruption.

0:20:270:20:30

If you go back to the beginning of this year there was no dispute

0:20:300:20:34

on Southern and Charles came forward with a plan to remove guards.

0:20:340:20:38

We told him before he did that, if you do that there will be trouble.

0:20:380:20:42

Aslef told him the same thing.

0:20:420:20:43

He chose to go forward.

0:20:430:20:45

The DFT try to get the Scottish Government to do the same thing.

0:20:450:20:50

The Scottish Transport Minister looked at it and said

0:20:500:20:57

"I'm not going there, I don't need to replace guards."

0:20:570:20:59

It said he's not going to make any money out of it,

0:20:590:21:02

he could have left the guards in place, had an efficient

0:21:020:21:05

service and run the system the way he wants to.

0:21:050:21:09

On the basis of Southern's performance, I've already read out

0:21:090:21:11

some of the statistics, you and some of your Conservative

0:21:110:21:14

colleagues and also Caroline Lucas, the Green MP, and Peter Carr,

0:21:140:21:17

the Labour MP, have said that Southern is a disgrace.

0:21:170:21:19

It has an appalling record.

0:21:190:21:20

Caroline Pidgeon is calling for the company to be

0:21:200:21:23

stripped of its franchise.

0:21:230:21:24

Why has the government not done something about a company

0:21:240:21:26

whose fare money it takes and whom the taxpayer has to fund

0:21:260:21:29

when you have to compensate commuters who do not get to work

0:21:290:21:32

or get home on time?

0:21:320:21:33

APPLAUSE.

0:21:330:21:38

The way franchise agreements all work is they have a clause

0:21:380:21:41

within them that if the poor performance is not down

0:21:410:21:44

to the rail operator but down

0:21:440:21:45

to either Network Rail or unofficial orofficial industrial action

0:21:450:21:50

to either Network Rail or unofficial or official industrial action

0:21:500:21:53

and you cannot strip a franchise operator of that franchise.

0:21:530:21:55

The irony of the union action is we cannot tell whether this poor

0:21:550:21:58

performance is down to Southern's management, yet, because it is

0:21:580:22:01

currently still being investigated by the Department for Transport.

0:22:010:22:04

If the unions gave away on this issue and returned back to work

0:22:040:22:08

we could really see if Southern are capable of running the system.

0:22:080:22:11

We can't right now.

0:22:110:22:12

If I go to this gentleman in the second row.

0:22:120:22:15

Yes?

0:22:150:22:22

My name is Steve and I'm from Eastbourne.

0:22:220:22:24

I'm an ex-train driver, up to about six years ago I worked

0:22:240:22:27

for Southern Rail who were a very good company to work for.

0:22:270:22:30

I worked at different depots and I have worked DOO and non-DOO

0:22:300:22:33

and I can say categorically you can run a train service DOO

0:22:330:22:36

but on the events that have happened to me over a period of years,

0:22:360:22:40

the travelling public are far less safe on the DOO train

0:22:400:22:43

that they are when there is a guard on-board.

0:22:430:22:45

I have had stabbings which couldn't be investigated early

0:22:450:22:47

enough and mass gang fights and inconvenience.

0:22:470:22:51

What you say about the 30% of trains and services in Britain

0:22:510:22:54

that are run on DOO?

0:22:540:22:56

In an ideal world they should all have a safety trained

0:22:560:22:59

guard and I think Charles is being economical with the truth

0:22:590:23:04

because you say you will put a second member of staff on board

0:23:040:23:08

but in exceptional circumstances it may not happen, well, I take

0:23:080:23:12

Huw's point that perhaps the union and Southern could decide

0:23:120:23:16

what is exceptional and what isn't otherwise it is subjective.

0:23:160:23:20

More importantly, please, at the moment the guards are safety

0:23:200:23:24

trained to a very high level which can include, for example,

0:23:240:23:27

leaving the train to late emergency protection, I believe.

0:23:270:23:32

leaving the train to lay emergency protection, I believe.

0:23:320:23:35

In the current climate, with the fear of terrorism,

0:23:350:23:37

will the new OBS be trained to exactly the same safety levels

0:23:370:23:40

that the current guards are?

0:23:400:23:41

What are the OBS?

0:23:410:23:42

On-board supervisor.

0:23:420:23:46

Not relevant to the role, which I've heard your spokespeople say before.

0:23:460:23:49

What you say about being able

0:23:490:23:50

to state categorically what the exceptional

0:23:500:23:52

circumstances might be?

0:23:520:23:53

That was part of the offer we made to be RMT but they weren't

0:23:530:23:57

willing to talk about it.

0:23:570:23:58

Right.

0:23:580:23:59

Steve is right...

0:23:590:24:00

They are not trained safety critical staff.

0:24:000:24:03

They have the same status on that train as a passenger.

0:24:030:24:05

They cannot intervene with the protection of the railway,

0:24:050:24:08

they can't go on the track.

0:24:080:24:09

That is simply, simply untrue.

0:24:090:24:15

The on-board supervisors are trained in all emergency and evacuation

0:24:150:24:19

procedures on the train.

0:24:190:24:23

The only thing they are not trained to do is to use a very old-fashioned

0:24:230:24:27

procedure which involves going onto the track and laying

0:24:270:24:29

detonators after walking a mile and a quarter down the track,

0:24:290:24:36

which is a procedure which is rarely used now, if ever,

0:24:360:24:39

and actually has been superseded by trains now having a modern GSR

0:24:390:24:45

radio on there where the driver pushes one button and can

0:24:450:24:48

stop all trains around and about his train so that is

0:24:480:24:51

the reality of the situation.

0:24:510:24:56

I am sorry, when Mick keeps saying, safety trained, safety

0:24:560:25:00

trained, safety trained.

0:25:000:25:01

We are training our people...

0:25:010:25:04

Are you listening to each other?

0:25:040:25:06

When you speak, are you listening to what the other person says?

0:25:060:25:14

APPLAUSE.

0:25:140:25:19

We listen to each other but we don't agree.

0:25:190:25:21

Do you listen with hands over your ears and say

0:25:210:25:24

you have an entrenched position and you are not moving.

0:25:240:25:26

This is both of you.

0:25:260:25:28

We can't go any further with the dilution of safety

0:25:280:25:30

regulation on the railway.

0:25:300:25:31

We are not prepared to be party to diluting safety

0:25:310:25:34

standards on the railway.

0:25:340:25:35

How do you get round this?

0:25:350:25:36

This is the incredibly frustrating piece.

0:25:360:25:38

Back in the summer, when I spoke to the leader of the RMT,

0:25:380:25:41

and I take my hat off to you, you negotiated a really good

0:25:410:25:44

deal for your members.

0:25:440:25:45

You've got job guarantees, but it must be right if the train

0:25:450:25:48

can safely move in exceptional circumstances, and that can't be

0:25:480:25:51

because there aren't enough second crew members employed,

0:25:510:25:55

it has to be that they are stuck somewhere else, then

0:25:550:25:58

surely we can sit down and write it, and I will help you write it.

0:25:580:26:02

To me we are not that far apart and yet we have 300,000 people

0:26:020:26:05

unable to get to work or study each day and it's madness.

0:26:050:26:08

How would you, if Transport for London were to take

0:26:080:26:11

over the running of these suburban

0:26:110:26:12

rail lines, how would you resolve

0:26:120:26:14

the London Underground strike action

0:26:140:26:15

that's happened with the RMT?

0:26:150:26:16

Clearly we need to have good industrial relations and they broken

0:26:160:26:19

down clearly between Southern and the unions and that is

0:26:190:26:22

for the Mayor of London

0:26:220:26:26

and TFL to develop good industrial relations and clearly at the moment

0:26:260:26:29

with threats of the strike on the Underground we

0:26:290:26:31

are not in that place.

0:26:310:26:35

With this dispute, would you accept Mick Lynch's proposal and demand

0:26:350:26:38

for a safety critical person, a second person in that role

0:26:380:26:41

on every train on Southern.

0:26:410:26:44

We have heard very clearly from Charles Horton that there

0:26:440:26:47

would be two people on every train.

0:26:470:26:49

The trains I am on don't have a second person and actually

0:26:490:26:52

I think we need to move forward and I think binding arbitration

0:26:520:26:55

should be legislated for so actually when we get these disputes

0:26:550:26:58

they should be resolved quickly.

0:26:580:27:00

You would be in the same position if you were in this

0:27:000:27:03

dispute, you accept that.

0:27:030:27:04

Charles, I say to you, if you give us that guarantee

0:27:040:27:07

and you guarantee a second person on each train,

0:27:070:27:10

we jointly define their safety critical competencies

0:27:100:27:12

and you guarantee they will be there we can go out the back

0:27:120:27:16

now and write a deal.

0:27:160:27:21

I've given you the papers already.

0:27:210:27:23

You can hear how much they want this to happen

0:27:230:27:25

and they have waited long enough.

0:27:250:27:27

Mick Lynch and Charles Horton, if you now have the opportunity,

0:27:270:27:29

as Mick Lynch has just said, there is a room just

0:27:290:27:32

to the side of the stage where you could thrash this out.

0:27:320:27:36

Would you do it?

0:27:360:27:39

Would you do it now, with Huw Merriman could sit

0:27:390:27:41

there and Caroline Pidgeon to join you and adjudicate.

0:27:410:27:44

Would you thrash out a deal?

0:27:440:27:46

APPLAUSE AND CHEERING.

0:27:460:27:54

You're a lawyer by trade, that could be helpful.

0:27:540:27:56

Could it work, seriously?

0:27:560:27:58

Absolutely.

0:27:580:28:02

It is incredibly frustrating for you all and for me because you hear

0:28:020:28:05

a lot of differences but then you see they are not that far apart

0:28:050:28:08

but the reality is when you take them separately it

0:28:080:28:11

doesn't go anywhere so I absolutely agree that it would be fantastic

0:28:110:28:14

if the two parties could sit down but would also just put

0:28:140:28:17

things behind them and be reasonable with the approach,

0:28:170:28:19

which means if it is safe to have this practice then accept it

0:28:190:28:22

and if there is more that can be done to get the unions

0:28:220:28:26

where they need to be and make stations extra safe, then let's

0:28:260:28:29

accept it, it is possible.

0:28:290:28:30

At this point I would like to thank the panel and the audience

0:28:300:28:33

and you can continue the debate on BBC Radio London with Duncan

0:28:330:28:36

Barkes from 10pm tonight and all have your say now on the BBC

0:28:360:28:39

London Facebook page and on Twitter Southernstrike.

0:28:390:28:42

From all of us here, thank you and goodbye.

0:28:420:28:51

Hello, I'm Riz Lateef with your 90-second update.

0:29:030:29:05

Too many people go to A with minor problems.

0:29:050:29:08

That's according to the Health Secretary.

0:29:080:29:10

He said the target in England of seeing patients within four hours

0:29:100:29:13

was only meant to apply to urgent cases.

0:29:130:29:15

Jo Coburn presents a debate from the Chequer Mead Theatre in East Grinstead on the crisis in the railways of the south east. The Southern Rail strike is Britain's worst in 20 years. It has caused misery for hundreds of thousands of people, with exasperated commuters, crowded trains and companies forced out of business.