Southern rail bosses and RMT officials want to start peace talks this week in bid to end the dispute over the future role of guards on the franchise, sources on both sides of the row told IBTimes UK on Tuesday (7 February).

"There's no reason why not to meet [this week]," an RMT source said. "The sooner the better so let's get it on."

The comments come after RMT general secretary Mick Cash wrote to Southern operator, Govia Thameslink Railway, to inform the company his union was open for talks.

But Cash was critical of a deal between train drivers' union Aslef and Southern brokered at the Trades Union Congress' headquarters in London.

The union chief branded the breakthrough as a "shocking and historical betrayal" of Southern drivers, conductors and guards.

"This abysmal document lists a whole host of areas where a train can leave without a second member of staff that will leave both the driver and passengers exposed and vulnerable and which also represents a thin end of the wedge that will lead to the de-staffing of trains," he said.

The details of the deal have not been made public since Southern and Aslef want drivers to see the proposals first. Mick Whelan, general secretary of Aslef, also told IBTimes UK that the agreement does not involve any concessions on pay or work conditions.

"We believe what we have done has made safer," he said. "Not having the guarantee of a second person on the train in 21st-century Britain – I don't believe that late at night, early in the morning, lone working meets the needs of the travelling public."

The dispute around driver-only-operations (DOO) has led to travel misery for the 300,000 or so commuters who use Southern.

New talks between the RMT and Southern offer hope to those passengers, although it is currently unclear whether the TUC or mediation service Acas will host the negotiations.