Eastbourne’s MP has welcomed the suspension of strike action and has promised to press Southern to reinstate services in time for Airbourne.
The RMT union started the five-day walkout on Monday (August 6) against Govia Thameslink Railway’s plans to change the role of conductors, but action planned for tomorrow (Thursday) and Friday has been called off as both sides have agreed to resume negotiations.
Southern said that Thursday’s services would still be running to the strike timetable but it would do its best to add services, while on Friday it plans to revert to the revised timetable operating before the strike.
Caroline Ansell, Eastbourne MP, said: “I’m delighted the strike has been called off and I would like to thank the RMT for listening to my entreaties and to those of others.
“I will now be contacting the chief executive of Southern to ensure that services into Eastbourne are programmed as a priority so that as many visitors can get into the town by rail for Airbourne, the biggest event in our calendar.
“Of course, this doesn’t mean the dispute is over, but it is a positive move by the union.”
A spokesman for Acas, the mediation service hosting the talks, said: “Southern and the RMT are returning to talks tomorrow under the auspices of Acas. Strike action has been suspended for Thursday and Friday.”
A spokesman for Southern added: “We are encouraged that the RMT has accepted our offer to resume talks at ACAS and has agreed to call off its strike action. For our passengers sake we truly hope these talks will be productive and bring this long running dispute to an end.
“At present, the strike timetable is still in the industry train planning systems for Thursday and Friday.
“Regrettably, this means tomorrow’s service will be based upon the present strike timetable but we will do our very best to add services in and extend the hours of operation wherever possible.
“On Friday we plan to revert to the revised timetable operating before the strike. We will update our website www.southernrailway.com as further information becomes available.”
Eastbourne’s Chamber of Commerce bosses wrote a letter to GTR last week expressing fears that hundreds of thousands of visitors to Airbourne, one of the highlights of Eastbourne’s entertainments calendar, would not be able to travel be train because of the strike action.
The first two days of the event, which runs from August 11-14, were set to coincide with the last two days of the Southern strike.
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