Dispute may be over, but issue has not gone away
For 18 frustrating months, commuters have been the victims in the dispute between train drivers and Southern Rail.
So seemingly interminable has it been that it’s become known as the longest-running industrial battle in the history of Britain’s railways.
But we report today that the train drivers’ union Aslef has finally agreed a new pay deal which will see members receive a 28 per cent pay rise over the next five years.
The settlement also means Southern trains will have a second safety-trained person on every train covered by the agreement, except in exceptional circumstances.
So will life as a rail commuter now return to some sort of normality? We certainly hope so as these long-suffering folk have had to put up with inconvenience for far too long already.
They pay dearly to travel by train and have a right to expect a certain level of service, but instead have all too often been left struggling to get to work.
If those behind the wheel of a car think they have it tough with rush-hour traffic jams, spare a thought for people who have to put their faith in a railway system in need of investment and beset by industrial action.
Although the Aslef dispute is over, commuters certainly aren’t dancing in the aisles just yet. It’s worth remembering that members of the Rail, Maritime & Transport Union were still set to strike on Southern Rail and South Western Railway services today in a bid to put pressure on rail bosses to scrap driver-only trains.
This fundamental issue has not gone away. We just hope any negotiations on the subject see both sides working to find a resolution and not the kind of intransigence that causes so much resentment among passengers.