Workers at four rail companies are to stage two 24-hour strikes in worsening disputes over the role of guards and driver-only trains.
The rail union RMT today confirmed its Greater Anglia members will take two days of strike action over the potential extension of driver only operation.
These two 24-hour strikes will coincide with the Conservative Party’s annual conference in Manchester.
The walk outs will coincide with the closure of Liverpool Lime Street station for major refurbishment.
No trains will enter or leave Lime Street mainline station for nine days, and many will be diverted.
Merseyrail’s managing director Jan Chaudhry-van der Velde said: “The RMT say this dispute is about safety”.
RMT said it was “angry and frustrated” that the company has blocked any chance of making progress in talks. This fiasco can not be allowed to drag on any longer.
‘The RMT seem to be doing everything in their power to destroy this work.
They walked out on the day of the Grand National at Aintree, near Liverpool.
“The failure to get those talks moving following our face to face meeting with Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has left us no option but to call further action”.
“But a recent industry report (RSSB, Risk associated with train dispatch, July 2017) states that: ‘… there is no additional risk for passengers boarding and alighting driver-controlled operation/driver-only operation trains, and indeed that trains without a guard actually appear to lower overall dispatch related safety risk to passengers”.
Nick Brown, chief operating officer for Southern’s parent company Govia Thameslink Railway, said: “Modernisation is urgently required to future-proof and increase capacity on this, the busiest part of the United Kingdom railway, where passenger numbers have doubled in 12 years”.
We are disappointed by this unnecessary action and the RMT’s continued refusal to engage with us in modernising the railway.
“We are still prepared to guarantee jobs and current pay for all our conductors for the next eight years”, he said.
They said driver managers have been driving trains and could not say whether replacement buses will be provided.
It says 60 per cent of its services now operate without a conductor. Last strike, we ran a normal service on most of our routes but passengers will inevitably be affected in places and we deeply regret any inconvenience these strikes will cause.