Published: Mon, January 08, 2018
Business | By Tara Barton

Commuters face disruption as three-day rail strike kicks off

Commuters face disruption as three-day rail strike kicks off

"RMT members remain solid and united in each of the separate disputes across the country over rail safety this morning as we continue to fight to put public safety, security and access before the profits of the train operating companies", said Mick Cash, the union's General Secretary, in a statement.

The dispute by the RMT Union centres on the future of guards and driver-only trains.

Rail passengers in some parts of England are facing travel disruptions this week after workers at five train companies supported strikes over the role of conductors responsible for safety on board.

Union bosses from RMT announced its members on Southern Rail, Greater Anglia, Northern and South Western Railway are staging a series of 24-hour strikes in January.

Southern Rail will be striking for 24 hours on Monday January 8th.

Southern, which has now been hit by nearly 40 daily strikes in the RMT dispute over driver-only (or driver-controlled) operation, said it expected to run nine trains out of 10.

Northern Rail services, which runs trains in northwest and northeast England, said it will run around 1,350 trains on strike days - about 60 per cent of its normal service.

Richard Allan, Arriva Rail North's (Northern) deputy managing director, said the company was committed to investing in new and updated trains, better stations and faster journeys.

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"However, the Transport Secretary recognises the disruption caused to passengers and has met with union leaders on several occasions, including as recently as December, to help bring an end to the strikes".

Commuters on the 07:00 Southampton to London Waterloo service told the BBC it was "quieter than normal".

But, luckily for us Greater Anglia have reassured us they are planning on running a full service for all three days.

TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said: "The way to resolve any dispute is through talks".

The Department for Transport said the row was not about safety, adding that "no one is losing their job".

"However, what we have been trying to talk to the RMT about is what happens if a guard is unavailable at short notice, perhaps due to illness or disruption; and how we might keep passengers moving rather than leave them stranded".

A Department for Transport spokesperson said the dispute was not about safety and that employees had been guaranteed jobs and salaries for several years.

Speaking to the BBC's Andrew Marr Show, she said: "A lot of people rely on our railways - we want to see good service on our railways but that does mean that investment is needed".

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