I have some good news and some bad news regarding Southern. The good news is that Southern have been fined £13.4 million by the Government for their shambolic performance. The bad news is that ASLEF - the drivers' union - have announced further strike action despite an offer of a 23.4% pay increase, which would have meant the average driver earning £60,000 for a 35hr day/4-day week, whilst the RMT have continued industrial action, including an overtime ban, despite all their members having signed contracts moving them from guards to on-board supervisors. This is very frustrating.
So what are we doing about it?
Well the Gibb's report, written by widely-respected Chris Gibb, put forward a number of recommendations, which you can see here: https://www.timloughton.com/news/southern-rail-network-gibb-report - in his report Gibb was very clear that his recommendations couldn't go ahead without the cessation of industrial action by the unions.
With this in mind, I recently organised a meeting with the RMT and their General Secretary, Mick Cash, with a cross party group of MPs - https://www.timloughton.com/news/tim-loughton-mp-holds-cross-party-meeting-rmts-mick-cash-listen-concerns-and-find-resolution - further to this I have organised a similar meeting with ASLEF and their General Secretary, Mick Whelan, tomorrow.
Clearly there are some residual safety concerns around disabled people being able to get on and off trains safely and conveniently but this - in the grand scheme of things - is a minor issue that can be solved fairly easily. Once this industrial action comes to an end the Department for Transport can get on with changing the franchise that Southern have so clearly completely messed up and failed to run properly.
As your MP I am speaking to everyone and holding all the key players to account, whether it be ministers, the Department for Transport, the management of Southern or the trade unions. My constituents have suffered long enough and it's time we brought industrial action to an end and look at whether Southern should continue with the franchise.