Southern Rail nationalisation is pointless - it won't solve anything, says rail journalist

Southern Rail has witnessed repeated strikes over the past year

A passenger walks past a closed entrance to a platform used by Southern Rail at Clapham Junction station in London on January 10, 2017 during a drivers' strike.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

A leading rail journalist has told talkRADIO the nationalisation of Southern Rail would do nothing to resolve the core issue that has brought misery to thousands of commuters over the past year.

Reports of a possible nationalisation plan have surfaced this morning, following yesterday's claims by industry publication Rail Business Intelligence that the Government is considering scrapping the Southern franchise.

The Southern network, which covers the London-to-Brighton line, has seen almost weekly strikes since last February, centring on plans for driver-only operation, or DOO, which would remove the guards from trains. The plans are bitterly contested by Aslef, the union representing train drivers, and the RMT, which represents the guards.

Sim Harris, editor of Rail News, told Julia Hartley-Brewer that nationalisation would be nothing more than change for the sake of change.

He said the core issue is not who owns the Southern network, but rather the removal of the guards, which is a plan wholly supported by the Government. Thus plans for DOO will remain in place even if the Government takes over the running of the line.

Harris also said that DOO has been proven to be safe - in contrast to the claims made by Aslef and the RMT - but given the huge number of people who use Southern trains, it might not work on this particular line.

Listen to the interview above