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Union calls for probe over Southern Rail's 'deliberate sabotage' of services

PUBLISHED: 12:06 12 December 2016

Southern trains

Southern trains

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The rail operator is locked in an increasingly bitter dispute with trade unions

Rail operator Southern has been accused of ‘sabotage’ after it allegedly blamed staff shortages for cancelled services when staff were available to work.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union has urged the Office of Road and Rail (ORR) to investigate after up to 90 per cent of services from the south coast were cancelled over the weekend even though “there were train crew in the depots ready to work and awaiting instructions”.

The allegations were made as staff prepared to stage another three-day walkout that is set to bring services to a halt.

Southern’s parent company Govia Thameslink Rail is making a last ditch attempt to prevent the industrial action at the Court of Appeal, but urged passengers not to travel on Tuesday whatever the outcome.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “Southern have moved from a position peddling lies to one of deliberate sabotage of services just to give them another excuse to stick the boot into their own staff.

“That is a disgraceful and cynical development that proves that the company could not give two hoots about the travelling public, running a safe and reliable rail service or resolving the current dispute.

“Throughout the past year the Office of Road and Rail, supposedly an independent regulator, have either sat on their hands or sided with Southern Rail.

“It is now time for the ORR to get off their backsides and thoroughly investigate this scandal on Britain’s biggest rail franchise.”

A Southern spokesman commented: “This is absolute fabricated nonsense. It is the unjustified industrial action by the union which is causing disruption for passengers.

“We are trying to provide the best possible service under very challenging circumstances. If anyone is sabotaging services it’s the union.”

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