Southern rail and drivers' union Aslef are back around the negotiating table on Tuesday (21 February) after the union's members rejected an offer from the company.

"After the referendum result on the proposed resolution was rejected we asked for talks with the company. Those talks are taking place today," an Aslef spokesperson said.

The drivers rejected the offer, brokered at the Trades Union Congress, by 54.1% to 45.9, with a turnout of more than 72%.

The result was a blow to Southern operator Govia Thameslink Railway, Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan and the 300,000 commuters who use the franchise every working day.

The dispute is over Southern's modernisation plans to move to a driver-only-operations (DOO), with Aslef and sister union the RMT raising safety concerns.

But the Office for Rail and Road (ORR) has given Southern the green light to introduce DOO trains across the network on the condition that additional staff would be on hand to operate doors at stations that do not meet visibility standards.

Whelan said: "We understand and support the decision arrived at democratically by our members and will now work to deliver a resolution in line with their expectations."

A Southern spokesperson said the company remains open for talks.

"This ballot was entirely a matter for Aslef and their Southern members," said Mick Cash, the general secretary of the RMT.

"RMT has remained focussed on the industrial and public campaign to protect the safety of the travelling public and to put access and safe operation before profits.

"RMT will now look to take that campaign into its next phase working with our sister rail unions, the wider trade union movement and the passengers who use the railway.

"RMT repeats the call to Southern to give the guarantee of a second, safety critical member of staff on their trains and to sit down with the unions in new talks around the issue of safe train despatch."