Got a TV Licence?

You need one to watch live TV on any channel or device, and BBC programmes on iPlayer. It’s the law.

Find out more
I don’t have a TV Licence.

Summary

  1. Updates on Tuesday's one-day strike by Greater Anglia staff
  2. Picket lines at Colchester North, Ipswich and Norwich stations
  3. RMT union wants guarantees on guards on trains
  4. Greater Anglia says no guards will lose jobs during its franchise
  5. Another 24-hour action planned for Thursday

Live Reporting

By Philippa Taylor

All times stated are UK

Get involved

Calling it a day

As services seem to be running to normal at the moment we're calling it a day for our live coverage.

There's due to be a second strike on Thursday, so we'll bring you more details on this tomorrow.

Little disruption to rail services

We're in rush hour during the first of two strikes by RMT union members at Greater Anglia but, according to the train company's website, there appears to be little disruption to services.

A train late out of the depot has caused the most problems, cancelling the 16:56 from Colchester Town to Colchester and disrupting a London Liverpool Street to Colchester Town service.

The 16:39 London Liverpool Street to Stansted Airport service will be started at Stratford due to trespassers on the track.

Latest on Greater Anglia cancellations

Two further cancellations earlier today due to member of train crew being unavailable.

This brings the number of cancellations for this reason to three, in addition to two because of train faults.

View more on twitter
View more on twitter

RMT accuses Greater Anglia of putting strike-breaking before safety

The RMT says it has written to MPs and the rail safety operator alerting them to two incidents this morning where it claims Greater Anglia's decision to train backroom staff as guards ahead of the current industrial action could have had "potentially catastrophic consequences".

The union says: "The first was the 05:10 Norwich to Sheringham service where, despite the signal being at red, the person utilised as a guard gave two bells for the train to leave Cromer station.

"It was only because the driver noticed the error that the train did not pass the red signal and an accident was avoided.

"The second incident was on the 06:15 Colchester to Ipswich service where the driver became aware that the person utilized as a guard did not know where to operate the door key switch, as a result the driver, unlike Greater Anglia, put passenger safety first and refused to continue the service."

Greater Anglia's train service delivery director Richard Dean responded to the comments: "Customer safety was not compromised in these incidents.

"Correct safety procedures were applied to ensure this was the case.

"These sorts of incidents occasionally happen with our usual conductors. They will be fully investigated in the usual way.

"Our stand in conductors have been fully trained and had to pass competency, safety and medical tests.

"It is worth noting that such incidents would be avoided completely with our proposals to move to a system where the driver opens and closes the doors at every station."

'100% support' for industrial action from RMT guards

We've put calls in to the RMT to try to gauge the level of support today's industrial has had among its guards working for Greater Anglia.

Spokesman Geoff Martin said all their guards on the network, numbering more than 200, have supported the strike and not crossed any picket lines.

He said they have a "small number" of members who are train drivers (most drivers join ASLEF), and they have not crossed picket lines either.

We also spoke to Greater Anglia, to ask them how many cancellations there had been due to the industrial action.

Their spokeswoman said there had been none, but that the 06:15 Colchester-Ipswich service did not run this morning due to train crew issues.

Female passenger 'would feel safer with guards'

Jan Plummer spoke to the BBC and said: "I have been a commuter to Chelmsford and know there have been incidents on trains, which makes you very scared, especially if it's later at night.

"As a woman, I would feel safer with a guard.

"It's scary enough already if the guard's at one end of the train and I would find it scary and it would probably put me of travel [if all guards disappeared]."

View more on twitter

Your comments: Security aspect of guards on trains

Keith and Kathy Robinson have been in touch with us via the "Get involved" link at the top of this page, to recount a recent experience while travelling to Norwich on the train.

They say: "A young man (of middle eastern appearance) was sitting across the aisle from us and was behaving, in what we thought, was a rather strange manner.

"On reaching Colchester, he asked the name of the next station. He then stood up, fiddled with his mobile 'phone and left his seat, leaving a small rucksack on it.

"We sat for a few minutes, uncertain as to what we should do, when we saw the train guard enter the carriage. I called him and told him of our concerns. As we were talking, the young man returned to his seat, collected his rucksack and walked down the train.

"If there had been no guard on the train, our only alternative action would have been to pull the communication cord and stop the train. This would have caused massive disruption and untold cost!!

"In this age we live in, when security is paramount, this incident highlighted the need for guards on trains to ensure the safety of passengers and we fully support the argument to retain them."

Greater Anglia repeats its guarantee to the RMT

Greater Anglia's delivery director Richard Dean has set out the rail provider's stance regarding the concerns being raised by the RMT.

He said: "We're not getting rid of our conductors, we've given a guarantee that we're keeping them throughout the whole of our franchise, which runs to October 2025.

"We're proud of the work our conductors do, they look after our passengers very well and we want them to continue.

"I think the issue is the one about who opens and closes the doors - on 60% of our trains the driver does that already, and has done for many many years.

Train at platform
BBC

"When we introduce our new trains, in a couple of years time, we want to move to a consistent 'driver opening and closing the doors' - it frees the conductors up from running around at door panels at stations and allows them to concentrate on looking after customers," he said.

"When the new trains are delivered they have in-cab CCTV which shows the outside of every vehicle of the train so the driver, at the decision point when he's got to take the brake off and apply some power, he will be able to see the whole of the train and check if it's safe to move.

"It's better rather than [having] a conductor who can't see the full length of the train telling the driver when to go."

The RMT reiterates its concerns

Steve Smart from the RMT union said they are taking industrial action because they want to "keep the guard on a train, and no extension of driver-only operation".

He said their question to Greater Anglia is: "Will you guarantee or does your guarantee ensure there will be a guard on every train because currently if there isn't, the train won't run and we're not getting the assurances from Greater Anglia that they will give us that [referring to those trains that currently have guards]."

Train at station
BBC

Mr Smart continued: "It's not just the closing of the doors - you've got to ensure you've got a safe passage for the train to go away and the other thing is you've got a train dispatch and you get a signal from the man or lady on the station and that ensures us to get a safe dispatch.

"We have a role to play, the guards have a role to play, when elderly people come up to the stations, disabled people come up to the stations. They are not guaranteeing that they [guards] will be on the trains.

"What we're doing, purely and simply for our members, we are pursuing their cause for them."

We'll bring you Greater Anglia's stance on the situation next.

Your comments: RMT industrial action

We asked earlier for your comments on the industrial action being taken by members of the RMT union who work for Greater Anglia.

D&P Stone writes: "It is always disappointing that strikes seldom, if ever, have any impact on the management (and the negotiators) but it is always the consumers who suffer."

Train with Greater Anglia employee on platform
BBC

In another email, Hugh Rich, who describes himself as our "commuter from Whittlesford Parkway, writes: "Why do commuters have to bear the pain of train staff?

"We can’t go on strike for all the things that ‘pish’ us off about the railways: like the spiralling (monopolistic) price rises of season tickets, ridiculously expensive car parking – in some cases a quarter of an annual season ticket bill, dirty, old and unreliable trains and an overall rubbish service.

"Bring on automation is what we say."

How does a rail operator decide which trains need conductors?

Philippa Taylor

BBC Local Live

I've been speaking to Jonathan Denby, head of corporate affairs at Greater Anglia, about why some trains have conductors, and some don't.

He said the move to driver-only trains began during the era of British Rail.

The rationale was that a lot of services in and around the south-east,didn't need a conductor as most of the travellers were commuters with season tickets, but there were some at the barriers to check tickets.

For a number of years, it's been the case that about 60% of trains operate with just a driver.

Greater Anglia train at Ipswich station
BBC

Twice-hourly services into Liverpool Street from stations such as Norwich, Ipswich and Colchester, have conductors because the balance of travel on intercity services is approximately 25% commuters, 25% business, and the rest "leisure" passengers.

Mr Denby explained that on regional services, a significant proportion of travellers are using a train for leisure purposes, and they often travel from unstaffed stations, so they appreciate the opportunity of buying a ticket on the train.

Images from Colchester

Official picket
John Fairhall
Safety banner
John Fairhall

Images from Norwich

Mike Liggins

BBC Look East

RMT banner
BBC
RMT badges
BBC

'Business as usual' at Shenfield

Essex commuter Jez Halford sent these photos from Shenfield station in Brentwood, where he said it was "business as usual".

He got to work in central London on time, despite the Greater Anglia strike.

Shenfield station
Jez Halford
Information boards at Shenfield
Jez Halford

RMT would be round the table 'like a shot' if they got reassurance about guards

The RMT has said today's industrial action is taking place because they're not getting the assurances they want from Greater Anglia over the continued use of guards to close train doors.

Regional organiser Steve Smart said he met with Richard Dean from Greater Anglia two weeks ago and the union gave them an option and a "way out" of the current dispute.

"That was the Scotrail model, a franchise run by Abellio", he said.

"If they were to come back and give us that we would be round the table like a shot signing papers with them."

The Scotrail model referred to by Mr Smart has guards closing doors.

Cambridge information board shows cancellation

Regular commuter 'working from home'

An Ipswich man who is a regular commuter to Liverpool Street has told us he's not tried to make the journey to the capital today.

Mark Deer said: "As soon as this was announced I changed my plans so I could work from home.

"Even with the Greater Anglia team saying there's going to be no disruption you literally never really know, so better to work from home than not."

Have you made a similar decision? We'd love to hear from you - you can contact us via the "Get involved" link at the top of this page.

This leaflet is being handed out by RMT members:

Leaflet being handed out by RMT members
BBC

Support for RMT from one commuter

We've had a quick word with one commuter at Colchester North who's told us he supports the Greater Anglia staff:

View more on twitter

Union claims strike action is 'rock solid' across England

RMT union members working for four train companies across England are on strike today.

RMT picket at Manchester Victoria
RMT
RMT picket at Manchester Victoria on the Arriva Rail North network

Mick Cash, union general secretary, said workers were "standing absolutely rock solid and united" and claimed public support was "nothing short of fantastic as we mount picketing operations at all key locations".

He said: "These strikes are about... putting the safety and security of the travelling public before the profits of private companies, profits that in the most part are shipped overseas to subsidise transport services in Europe. That is a national scandal. "It is disgraceful that we have been unable to get serious and meaningful talks going in any of these four disputes and that points clearly to the dead-hand of the Government driving the faceless railway policy on purely ideological grounds and demanding that their contractors fall in line. "RMT will not stand back while the guards, front-line staff when it ‎comes to safety, security and access, are thrown off Britain's trains for political and financial reasons."

Greater Anglia say 'full service' will operate today

Despite a number of alterations to Greater Anglia services announced already this morning, the train company has said they still intend to run a "full service".

Richard Dean, Greater Anglia delivery director, told us: "I'd like to assure passengers we will be running a full service on the days the RMT has announced strike action.

"60% of our trains already operate with a driver-only on them.

"The rest of them [train services] we've trained up a significant number of back-office staff to take up the role of conductor on those trains, so the full service will operate."

Ipswich Station is one of those where the RMT has set up a picket line:

RMT picket line at Ipswich
BBC

Picket lines at Ipswich and Norwich stations

Members of the RMT have set up picket lines in Ipswich and Norwich:

RMT picket line at Ipswich railway station
BBC
Picket line at Norwich Thorpe
BBC

RMT members gather at Norwich Station

Members of the RMT prepare to set up their picket line at Norwich Station:

RMT members prepare to picket Norwich station
BBC

The scene at Colchester

RMT members on the picket line at Colchester North railway station.

RMT picket line
BBC

RMT strike action at additional rail networks

It's not just the rail provider Greater Anglia where members of the RMT are taking industrial action.

RMT members at Merseyrail, Arriva Rail North and Southern are also on strike today, with further action planned for Thursday.

The union says pickets will be out in force, taking the message to the public that axing of guards is part of a "co-ordinated strategy" driven by the government.

Merseyrail says most services will run between 07:00 and 19:00 with a break during the middle of the day, and some stations will be closed.

Arriva Rail North aims to run around 1,200 services across the North, 46% of its normal timetable, on both days between 07:00 and 19:00.

Southern said there will be a normal service on most of its routes, with its passenger services director Angie Doll saying: "The RMT is striking about changes we made almost a year ago as part of our modernisation programme.

"Nobody has lost their job over this, in fact we employ more on-board staff to help passengers than we did before, and we are providing a better service with fewer cancelled trains."

RMT members on South Western Railway are also voting on whether to strike over the role of guards.

When did the RMT vote for strike action?

It was back on 12 September the RMT railway workers' union revealed drivers and guards had voted for strike action in response to a dispute with Greater Anglia over the role of guards and driver-only trains.

Currently it's the conductors' job to open train doors on some trains, but Greater Anglia wants drivers to do it.

The trade union says it's a safety risk and could lead to job losses.

Greater Anglia says new technology makes it safe and jobs won't be lost.

Three quarters of drivers took part in the ballot, voting 2:1 to walk out.

Greater Anglia said it wanted to resolve issues and avert the action.

Greater Anglia train
Greater Anglia

How many conductors does Greater Anglia have?

Greater Anglia has 222 conductors, as well as seven conductor managers, and it says it is planning to keep all of them, as well as recruit more conductors as they get more trains, as well as new rolling stock.

The train company says the new trains will be built with technology enabling drivers to open and close doors, adding that on 60% of services, mainly commuter trains in Essex and Cambridge to London, there is already no conductor and the driver has opened and closed the doors for over 20 years.

Conductors will then concentrate on their customer service role, but continue to be trained in safety so that in an emergency they will be able to evacuate a train and lead passengers down the track safely.

Which trains have conductors - and what do they do?

Greater Anglia says it has conductors on about 40% of its services:

  • Norwich to London Intercity
  • Norwich to Sheringham, Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft
  • Ipswich to Felixstowe and Lowestoft
  • Norwich and Ipswich to Cambridge
  • Sudbury to Marks Tey
  • Clacton to Colchester
  • Harwich to Colchester

It also has conductors on a small number of peak-time services on two otherwise driver-only operated routes - the Witham to Braintree and Wickford to Southminster lines in Essex.

Conductors help customers on and off the train, giving travel advice, and checking and selling tickets.

They also currently close train doors (and also open them on Intercity services), says Greater Anglia.

Greater Anglia train
BBC

Greater Anglia warns of two cancellations

We've just seen these two cancellations on the Braintree/Liverpool Street service, Greater Anglia says they're due to a fault on the train, not to today's industrial action by the RMT.

View more on twitter
View more on twitter

What does the RMT have to say?

The Rail Union RMT confirmed on 28 September that its members on Greater Anglia are striking because of "the potential extension of Driver Only Operation, and the clear threat to passenger safety, following the company's continuing refusal to give a guarantee on the role of the guard throughout the length of the franchise".

In addition to the 24-hour strike actions already called for today and Thursday, Greater Anglia conductor and senior conductor members have been instructed not to undertake any overtime or rest day working between 00:01 on Tuesday, 10 October until 23:59 hours on Monday, 6 November 2017.

Mick Cash
AP

RMT general secretary Mick Cash (pictured) said: "It is the wholesale failure of Greater Anglia to address our members' concerns over safety that has left us with no option but to escalate our programme of industrial action.

"Greater Anglia have been given every opportunity to give a guarantee on the future role of the guard on their services.

"They have failed to do so and that left us with no alternative but to move to a ballot in the interests of rail safety.

"This dispute is about guaranteeing the safety of the travelling public pure and simple.

"Our members voted by massive majorities for both strike action and action short of a strike, but the company have ignored that and have failed to seize the opportunity to give us the very simple assurances on the future of the guards, and the guarantee of a second safety-critical member of staff on current services.

"That failure leaves us no option but to move to strike action."

Why train conductors are going on strike

Train conductors working for Greater Anglia are taking strike action due to fears over safety.

It's running from midnight this morning and will end at midnight tonight.

Why Greater Anglia train conductors are going on strike

Greater Anglia strike action

Philippa Taylor

BBC Local Live

Members of the RMT union at Greater Anglia are walking out for 24 hours today, and on Thursday, in disputes over staffing and driver-only trains.

The RMT says several hundred staff are expected to take part in the industrial action, and there will be picket lines at Norwich, Colchester and Cambridge.

Greater Anglia says it has been training backroom staff for several months so they can fill in for conductors, and that it is planning to run a full service today.

We'll be bring you regular updates on the situation in your county but we'd love to hear from you too, particularly if your journey has been disrupted, or if you have strong feelings on the subject.

You can contact us via the "Get involved" link at the top of this page.