Southern, Merseyrail, Arriva Rail North and Greater Anglia rail staff strike

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Picket line Piccadilly Station
Image caption,
Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) are staging two 24-hour walkouts in October

Workers from four different rail companies are to stage two 24-hour strikes in continuing disputes over the role of guards and driver-only trains.

Members of the RMT union at Southern, Merseyrail, Arriva Rail North and Greater Anglia will walk out on 3 and 5 October.

The walk outs will coincide with the closure of Liverpool Lime Street station for major refurbishment.

It will also be during the Tory Party's annual conference in Manchester.

'Fiasco' dragging on

Mick Cash, RMT general secretary, said the union wanted to resolve all the disputes with talks for round-table discussions involving all parties including the Department for Transport.

He said the union was "bitterly disappointed" the calls had been rejected leaving "no option but to call further action".

"This fiasco cannot be allowed to drag on any longer."

Between 30 September and 22 October Network Rail will embark on a major project to overhaul the station, helping cater for a predicted doubling of peak-time passengers by 2043.

No trains will enter or leave Lime Street mainline station for nine days, and many will be diverted.

Jan Chaudhry-van der Velde, Merseyrail's managing director, said: "We are busy trying to build a better city region with an improved railway.

"The RMT seem to be doing everything in their power to destroy this work. Don't they want Liverpool to succeed?"

Mr Cash recognised the "severe impact the action will have" but said the union was dealing with employers who refuse to listen or engage with the union.

'Rejected our offers'

Rail Minister Paul Maynard said the RMT "is playing political games with passengers and should call off this strike action and return to talks."

"This is not about jobs as I have been clear I want to see more people working on the railways, not fewer", he said.

"It's also not about safety, as the regulator has ruled that driver-controlled trains are safe," he said.

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 UK railway, where passenger numbers have doubled in 12 years.

"The RMT needs to play its part if passengers are to benefit from service improvements."

Richard Allan, Arriva Rail North's deputy managing director, said the firm was modernising local rail with new and refurbished trains, better stations and faster journeys.

"RMT continues to reject our offers to talk and we are disappointed that the union has called further strike action.

"We are still prepared to guarantee jobs and current pay for all our conductors for the next eight years," he said.

Richard Dean, train service delivery director at Greater Anglia, said it too was "disappointed".

He said it had guaranteed conductors' jobs until the end of October 2025.

"In fact, we will be recruiting additional conductors, as we are replacing all of our trains with brand new trains from 2019, which will enable us to run more services," he said.

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