The following open letter has been sent to Chris Grayling MP, Secretary of State for Transport.
I am writing this open letter to you following the news that further rails strikes are planned for Southern Rail. I want to express my concern that this dispute is descending into one where a solution will be nearly impossible to find.
In the meantime the travelling public are being treated with contempt by Southern Rail following their decision to cut services by introducing an emergency timetable. This is compounded by their seemingly intransigent stance on the proposed changes to working practices.
I share the view that, if you cannot run a business with your staff, you cannot run a business.
As a local councillor I have no say or control over how the railways are run, you however do. Please exercise your authority and use your good offices to ensure a fair, reasonable and safe solution to the current dispute as a matter of urgency.
I would like to make the following points of action which I think you should take:
1. Remove Southern Rail from running train services. Even if this means taking the management of the service into central government control.
2. Listen to the concerns of the union members who do the job and know how unsafe the proposed changes are. Rail passengers have told me that a guard is necessary to ensure the safety and well-being of all those on the train. I ask how safe will vulnerable people be on trains without the safety provided by a guard? A guard is essential to provide services to rail users at unmanned stations and ensuring access for those with mobility issues.
3. Scrap the station staffing proposals which will further reduce services that the travelling public rely upon. I was shocked at proposals which would mean that travelling members of the public would not have the benefit of advice from someone who could inform them about the best and cheapest route to get to their destination. Instead they will have to rely on ticket machines which will only have one outcome, further cost to rail users.
In closing this letter I ask you to think of the honest, decent people who want a service which enables them to get to work and home safely in a timely manner. Additionally think about the impact on the economy of our region where tourists are less likely to visit our seaside town which is a large part of our local economy.
Cllr John Ungar
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