Disruption expected as fresh rail strikes take place

A train at Leeds Station. Danny Lawson/PA Wire.
A train at Leeds Station. Danny Lawson/PA Wire.
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Rail workers at three train operators are staging fresh strikes today in disputes over the role of guards and driver-only trains which will disrupt travel as people return to work and schools re-open after the holidays.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union who work for Arriva Rail North, Southern and Merseyrail are walking out amid worsening industrial relations.

Arriva Rail North, which puts on many of the trains within Yorkshire as Northern, expects to run more than 900 services between 7am and 7pm, with final services on some routes finishing before 7pm.

Replacement bus services will be available for journeys which are not going ahead.

Trains that do run are expected to be busy, journeys may take longer and connections could be affected.

Under planned changes to guards’ roles, responsibility for opening and closing doors would pass to the driver rather than the conductor. RMT is in dispute with the companies as it says this would be unsafe and lead to widespread job losses.

Mick Cash, general secretary of the RMT, said: “These strikes are about putting passenger safety before private profit and those that seek to undermine the safety culture on our railways in order to fill their own pockets should be called to account and forced back to the negotiating table.”

Paul Plummer, chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train companies and Network Rail said: “Britain’s railway connects communities across the country and train companies are doing all they can to keep passengers moving on the day many students return to school or college, and people are going back to work.

“Rail companies are working hard to upgrade the railway to support passengers and our economy now and for the long term, including 6,400 more services a week by 2021.”

The threat of action against the industry’s newest franchise holder is also looming.

RMT members on South Western Railway are to be balloted for strikes, just days after the operator took over the running of services from London Waterloo.