Little progress reported after rail dispute talks

Talks between the RMT and the government have not apparently resulted in any progress, and the industrial dispute is understood to be continuing. Before yesterday’s meeting, the RMT claimed that the contracts between the Department for Transport and train operators place control of any dispute in the government’s hands. The union’s general secretary Mick Lynch had said: ‘Today I want to see the government stop play-acting because the truth, written in black and white in their rail contracts, is that they’ve been in complete control of this dispute from day one. The train operators cannot move without government say so.’ The DfT has not responded directly to the union’s claim, but said: ‘The most important thing for passengers, businesses and the future of our rail industry, is for unions to put an end to these disruptive strikes. The rail minister will approach these latest talks as we have done since the start of this damaging industrial action – by working to facilitate reasoned, constructive discussions aimed at finding a swift resolution.’

Survey results ++ The results of a new survey published by passenger watchdog Transport Focus show that passengers are more concerned about the cost of travelling by train than anything else. Performance came just behind, while the third priority was trains running often enough, followed by accurate and timely information about the timetable, and then getting a seat on the train. Less important were helpful staff, clean stations and trains, and reliable WiFi, which was the 23rd category in TF’s list of 25 priorities. Finding sufficient space for luggage was the least important factor.

Bargain rides ++ Two operators in England are offering discounted fares in the wake of the latest rail strikes. East Midlands Railway is offering returns to London for £40 First Class and £20 Standard Class until 21 January, while Northern has announced a ‘flash sale’ running between today and 13 January, with bargain tickets selling for as little as 50p, £1 or £1.50 on selected routes. Eurostar has also launched a sale of single tickets at £39 as part of a return booking to Paris, Lille, Brussels or Rotterdam, valid on most dates between 23 January and 24 March.

Achilles appointment ++ Achilles Information Ltd has announced the appointment of Phil Scott as chief financial officer. Phil has had senior finance responsibilities in a number of software firms, including Flutter Entertainment and most recently Zepz, the cross-border payments business. He qualified as a chartered accountant with KPMG and holds an MA (Hons) in Economics from the University of St Andrews.

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