Southern rail and the RMT union will hold peace talks at meditation service Acas on Tuesday 14 February, the company confirmed to IBTimes UK on Thursday (9 January).

The Valentine's Day negotiations come after a major breakthrough between drivers' union Aslef and Southern bosses at the Trades Union Congress (TUC).

The unions have been in dispute with Southern operator Govia Thameslink Railway over the company's plan to use driver-only-operations (DOO) on the network.

Aslef and the RMT (Rail, Maritime and Transport workers) claimed the modernisation move could impact on passenger safety, but rail watchdog the Office for Rail and Road (ORR) backed the programme.

Details of the deal between Aslef and Southern have not been made public so drivers can see the proposals first. However, RMT chief Mick Cash has branded the agreement a "shocking betrayal" of Southern conductors and drivers.

"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.

"Passengers and staff alike have been sold out by a stitch-up cooked up in Congress House by the TUC and the bosses whilst Southern, one of the most anti-union and hated companies of recent times, is laughing all the way to the bank and have been given a free run to rip up the safety rule book in the name of profits."

But Mick Whelan, general secretary of Aslef, told IBTimes UK that deal will improve safety. "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."