There is a glimmer of hope for tens of thousands of Southern rail customers after the RMT Union offered to suspend its strike action in return for urgent peace talks with the franchise's operator, Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR).
But the union, which represents rail guards on Southern, said it would only suspended the five-day-long walkout if GTR do not set any pre-conditions to negotiations at Acas, the mitigation service.
"We have seen the pre-conditions set out in the latest letter from GTR. The company know that prescriptive pre-conditions would not allow genuine talks to take place," said Mick Cash, the general secretary of the RMT.
"In an effort to break the deadlock and get the talks process moving RMT is prepared to suspend strike action set for Thursday and Friday if Southern agree to urgent talks without pre-conditions. The ball is now in their court."
The development comes after GTR unveiled an eight-point plan to get the RMT back around the table, with the operator inviting the RMT to fresh talks "any time, any place, anywhere" to end the industrial action.
The proposal included that every train currently operated with a conductor will continue to have either a traditional conductor or a second member of staff on-board.
"This comprehensive and incredibly fair offer is on top of existing commitments made on no compulsory redundancies, no reduction in salary, a guaranteed above-inflation pay-rise for two years, additional salary paid to staff working voluntary overtime and no compulsory location moves," said Charles Horton, chief executive of GTR.
"Everyone is sick and tired of this pointless, needless and senseless strike, which is so damaging to people's everyday lives and the south-east economy, and causing undue disruption and hardship to customers and employees."
The RMT members, meanwhile, are protesting outside of the Department for Transport's London headquarters this morning (10 August). The union claims the government "sabotaged" its talks with GTR.