More strikes announced on Southern

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However, in a letter to the rail provider, the secretary of state for transport, Chris Grayling, said that while the primary cause of disruption to its service was down to industrial action, it did not "fully explain the poor service that passengers received".

A spokesman for GTR said the proposed strike action across one week "is a deliberate move to cause maximum disruption for passengers".

'My officials have determined that in many cases force majeure does not apply to the number of trains cancelled or the length of trains in service, ' he said.

Mick Whelan, general secretary of ASLEF, said that the fact the money was to be spent on improving Southern services meant that the company was effectively being given back the fine.

The fine money will be invested in improvements to services - including £4million to fund 50 on-board supervisors over the next two years. Chris Grayling has let them off the hook big style'.

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Go-Ahead said following the discussions, GTR will fund performance and passenger improvements in its service worth GBP13.4 million. "And when trains are shorter than they ought to be, it can leave already busy services unbearably overcrowded".

The TOC welcomed the ruling, saying it perceived it as a "fair outcome which draws a line under an issue that has been hanging over the franchise for many months".

Cash said the "response to the abject failure by Southern/GTR to deliver on their contract doesn't even stack up to a slap on the wrist".

It comes after strikes by trade unions disrupted services and caused lengthy delays for passengers on Southern over the past year.

Aslef the train driver's union has announced Thursday, more walkouts for August over the ongoing dispute with the beleaguered train operator, Southern rail over the driver-only operated trains.

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"No wonder the company are gloating".

GTR chief executive Charles Horton said: "We are pleased that this issue has been concluded, and accept and are sorry that our service levels haven't been good enough for passengers".

"We absolutely need to modernise in order to increase capacity on this, the most congested part of the UK's network, where passenger numbers have doubled in places in as little as 12 years".

The remaining £2.4m will go towards target performance improvements and GTR must submit plans on how it will do this to the Government.

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