Chris Grayling, the Secretary of State for Transport, has called on the trade union ASLEF to end their strikes after the Office of the Rail Regulator (ORR) declared the plans laid out by Southern Railways as safe. There has been an on-going series of strike actions called by ASLEF on the basis that driver operated doors were unsafe.
“ASLEF should call off its strike. There are no grounds for the strike to go ahead. The independent rail regulator has confirmed after a further review that driver-controlled trains are safe.
I want our railways to be the safest in the world. I have asked if it is possible for the ORR to set out a national framework for further improvements to the way in which trains are dispatched. I want and hope the unions will be fully involved in this.
The government is doing everything we can to limit the impact of this strike on passengers and I have written to the unions again today to offer to meet. No one is losing their job or earning less as a result of the changes.
Additional measures have been put in place to help people get to work but there will be much less capacity than usual and journeys will take longer. Those who have the option of working from home should do so”.
ASLEF have rejected the comments made by Grayling, with Mike Whelan, the General Secretary of the union, saying:
“Despite what Southern Railways is disingenuously claiming, the report from the Office of Rail and Road does not give driver only operation a clean bill of health. It doesn’t say it is safe, merely that it can be safe”.