A fresh deal aimed at resolving the long-running row between Southern and the biggest train drivers’ union has been agreed, the two sides said on Wednesday.
Hundreds of thousands of commuters have faced chaos since the dispute began last year.
Aslef leaders said they would recommend their members accept the new agreement following weeks of talks over a row about driver-only trains.
Mick Whelan, the union’s general secretary, said: “This agreement has the full support of the negotiating team and the executive committee, and offers solutions to our concerns, as well as restoring the confidence of all parties and the travelling public.”
GTR, the company that owns Southern, described the talks as constructive. Its human resources director Andy Bindon said: “We’re pleased we’ve been able to secure a recommended deal, subject to approval from its members, to end their dispute.”
He said it had been “an extraordinarily difficult period for passengers, staff and the regional economy and we are glad we’ve found a way to move forward together”.
Aslef members have taken six days of strike action in recent months, which crippled Southern services. The union also banned overtime, which caused further major disruption to Southern’s 300,000 passengers. They turned down a previous proposal last month.
A ballot on the new deal will be held among Aslef’s 1,000 drivers on Southern, with the result due on 3 April.
The RMT union is also in dispute with Southern over staffing and whether trains should always have a second, safety-critical member of staff. On Wednesday it said it had not seen details of the new deal.
Mick Cash, the RMT’s leader, said: “We are of course requesting a full copy as it goes to the heart of our disputes with the company.
“In the meantime RMT is pressing yet again for urgent talks with the company in our guards’ and drivers’ disputes.”
RMT members have taken 30 days of strike action – the latest on Monday – and its disputes over staffing have now spread to Merseyrail and Arriva Trains North, where industrial action was also held this week.
MPs have called on the government to take over the service in recent months, saying ministers were failing to enforce the terms of GTR’s contract, with hundreds of trains failing to run on time each day during the strike action.
The dispute has centred on a row over the introduction of more driver-only operated trains. The union said the move would threaten jobs for conductors and and makes passengers and staff less safe. It voiced repeated concerns that GTR had inflamed the dispute by imposing the new arrangements without agreement.