A new Southern rail deal designed to settle the long-running dispute with the transport unions on the franchise has been rejected by the RMT on Thursday (16 March).

The union, which mainly represents Southern conductors, said the latest agreement is "basically the old deal in a new envelope" and predicted operators would reject the offer around driver-only-operations.

"We have now had a chance to look at the detail and this is basically the old deal in a new envelope and RMT does not believe for a moment that drivers and guards will be hoodwinked," said Mick Cash, the general secretary of the RMT.

"Drivers and passengers have still lost the cast-iron guarantee they once had of a guard on the train which means they will now be more exposed and left vulnerable when something goes wrong. Disabled passengers will be seriously disadvantaged as access to train services β€Žis compromised."

The statement comes just a day after Southern operator Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) and drivers' union Aslef announced that they agreed new terms to settle the row. The last offer was rejected by Aslef members at a referendum, in a blow to the company and Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan.

"The fact is that GTR have deliberately done this deal behind the backs of guards and their union," Cash added. "Yet again guards are finding out at the last minute and via social media not from their employer. The real agenda here is to undermine the jobs and skills of a loyal and dedicated workforce regardless of the cost to safety and accessibility."

The result of the referendum will be on announced on 3 April. GTR and Aslef have vowed to make no further statements on the issue until then, whilst the details of the new agreement have not been released to the public.

Andy Bindon, human resources director of GTR, said: "We've had constructive talks with Aself, and we're pleased we've been able to secure a recommended deal, subject to approval from its members, to end their dispute.

"It's 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. We look forward to restoring good industrial relations with Aslef."