Abellio is selling a 40 per cent stake in its Greater Anglia franchise to Mitsui, reinforcing the Japanese presence in the British rail sector. The Dutch group said the deal met a 'long-standing objective' to run GA as a 60:40 joint venture, but the RMT criticised the sale as making a 'mockery' of the franchising process.
Southern drivers' strikes suspended for new talks
The drivers' union ASLEF has suspended industrial action on Southern next week so that new talks can take place with Govia Thameslink Railway. The TUC confirmed the move, which has followed an offer from the union to suspend the strikes if GTR agreed to 'intensive talks over driver-only operation under the auspices of the TUC'. However, a strike of conductors set for 23 January is still on.
New gloomy rail survey figures prompt calls for devolution or nationalisation
There have been new developments in the dispute over driver-only operation on Southern, but no resolution appears to be in sight. The RMT has called a conductors' strike on 23 January, with three 24-hour walkouts by drivers belonging to ASLEF and the RMT set to follow on 24, 25 and 27 January. Southern said services will be 'limited' on the 23rd, and that no trains will run during the drivers' strikes. Previous disruption is also continuing to have an effect: a survey published today by the consumer group Which? reports that Southern is at the bottom of a table measuring passenger satisfaction, scoring just 21 per cent.
DOO appeal set to be heard by Supreme Court
The long-running dispute over driver-only operation on Southern is set to move to the Supreme Court. The result of the hearing will affect the lives of many thousand of commuters in Sussex and neighbouring counties whose daily journeys have been disrupted by the ASLEF walkouts, involving around 1,000 drivers. Twelve drivers who belong to the RMT have also been joining the action. Govia Thameslink Railway has already argued without success in the High Court that the ASLEF strikes are breaching European law. The RMT said its position was 'perfectly clear' -- it will not agree to any extensions of DOO.
National Express to sell c2c to Italian railways
National Express is set to sell its last British rail franchise to the Italian state operator FS. Trenitalia, part of FS Italiane Group, will acquire the c2c franchise for some £70 million, yielding a 'small net profit' for the Group. The deal is subject to the consent of the Department for Transport, and existing c2c management and staff are to be retained. It will also mark the exit of National Express from the franchised rail sector in Britain, although it still has the concession to operate Midland Metro trams.
Funding for D-Train trial withdrawn after engine fire
Trials of a converted Underground train on a London Midland route have been put on hold indefinitely, and public funding for the trial service has been withdrawn. The D-Train, developed by Warwickshire-based Vivarail, uses diesel engines to generate traction current for the existing motors, but a test run had to be halted when a fire broke out in one of the engines as the three-car set passed through Kenilworth on 30 December.
Unions have 'overreacted' claims Southern
Southern drivers are on strike again today in the latest series of walkouts in the DOO dispute, and almost no trains are running. A fleet of 200 buses and coaches is providing road links from key Southern stations to stations on other operators' networks, but early reports suggested that the stations had remained quiet, with most commuters finding another route to work or else staying at home. The two sides confronted each other in a televised debate on Monday evening, but both maintained their previous positions, with Southern asserting that driver-only operation is safe while the unions continue to insist that it is not.