Southern rail passengers have been spared some travel misery today as the RMT Union and franchise operator Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) hold peace talks at mitigation service Acas from 12pm BST. The RMT, which represents conductors on the network, suspended its planned strike action for today and tomorrow when news broke of Southern rail yesterday.

The union's members had planned to walkout for five days from 8 August over job loss fears.

Southern's strike timetable, of 60% of normal services, remains in place and the company has said it is working to introduce trains on additional routes and "operate extended hours where possible".

Mick Cash, the general secretary of the RMT, told his members last night: "The National Executive Committee has had time to consider this matter and have acknowledged that some progress is being made.

"As the company have now agreed to meet with our union officials without the caveat of any preconditions the NEC has therefore instructed me to inform you and your colleagues that the strike action has now been suspended with immediate effect until further notice.

"I would like to congratulate you all on your steadfast and unwavering support for your colleagues during this dispute and the bravery and strength of unity you have shown during this difficult time."

A spokesperson for GTR added: "We are encouraged that the RMT has accepted our offer to resume talks at Acas and has agreed to call off its strike action. For our passengers sake we truly hope these talks will be productive and bring this long-running dispute to an end.

"At present, the strike timetable is still in the industry train planning systems for Thursday and Friday. On Friday we plan to revert to the revised timetable operating before the strike."