Unions have reacted with disbelief to news that the owners of Southern Railway have been shortlisted for a community award.
Govia Thameslink Railway is in the running for a Passengers Matter accolade in a competition run by the Association of Community Rail.
Southern services, including those on the south coast line through Portsmouth, have been disrupted for months because of staff shortages and industrial action in a long running dispute over the role of conductors.
Rail, Maritime and Transport union general secretary Mick Cash said: “The only ‘hard work and community dedication’ going on at Southern Rail is from the frontline staff who are being attacked and undermined by the company bosses at every turn.
“They are the unsung heroes and heroines who have fought tirelessly to defend safety, services and access to rail for all against a torrent of smears and abuse from the GTR dirty tricks machine.
“The idea that the company top brass, who have systematically run the Southern Rail routes into the ground, could be considered for a Passengers Matter accolade is way beyond satire. These are the highly-paid mob responsible for axing guards, closing ticket offices and throwing the catering trolleys off the trains.”
The awards, being announced later this month, celebrate community projects.