Next week’s Southern Rail strike off?

Southern train. Pic: Talk

ASLEF, the train drivers’ union has announced it is willing to suspend the strikes if Southern agrees to new talks.

Charles Horton, chief executive of Govia Thameslink Railway, the company that runs Southern Railways said that he “warmly welcomed” ASLEF’s decision to suspend the planned strikes.

He added: “We’ve always made clear our willingness to engage in meaningful talks with ASLEF to find a route forward to end their dispute.”

This means next week’s planned strikes by ASLEF drivers, called for January 24, 25, and 27, may not go ahead.

ASLEF General Secretary Mick Whelan said in a statement: “We propose that ASLEF and Southern engage in intensive talks under the auspices of the TUC, and as soon as possible.”

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady has already agreed to facilitate the talks. Very shortly after ASLEF’s statement was released she tweeted:

Mick Whelan and ASLEF also called on the Government to support the proposed talks. He said: “Given the implications of this dispute for the wider railway industry, I am also asking the Secretary of State for Transport to support this new process.”

Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling issued a short statement saying he too “welcomes ASLEFs offer to suspend industrial action..”

The strikes earlier this month also affected the Overground as South Londoners turned to alternatives to Southern Rail.

The unions’ dispute with Southern has been ongoing since April last year.

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