Northern and Merseyrail staff join Southern rail strike

  • Northern and Merseyrail staff join Southern rail strike

Northern and Merseyrail staff join Southern rail strike

Rail services across northern England were in disarray yesterday as a bitter strike over modernisation of the network forced more than 2,000 trains to be cancelled.

Strikes over driver only operation of trains have spread to the north of England with RMT union members walking out on Merseyrail and Northern Rail today, as well as a further one-day strike on Southern.

The 2,000 workers are on strike in separate disputes over staffing, causing travel misery for passengers.

Discussions between the union, RMT and Northern Rail have temporarily broken down, with a key issue being around guards.

Northern have said that running services without guards has been independently proven as safe and now don't even have rolling stock that they can do that on and have no planned loss of staff - they believe that strike action is premature.

Thousands of commuters across the North East will face a tricky time getting to work this morning.

A Southern spokeswoman said: "We're aiming to run as full a service as possible next Monday for our passengers".

The walkout is about the role of guards, with unions saying they've had no assurances about their future.

There is lots of time to talk and agree how we modernise the way we provide customer service.

The union claims disabled passengers on Southern are being treated less favourably than other passengers as a result of the company's decision to end the guarantee of a guard.

"We have a growing railway with great opportunities for our people, and rail companies have offered to guarantee jobs and pay".

A spokesman told the Guardian Southern has drafted in staff from elsewhere in the business to work as contingency on-board supervisors and conductors.

Merseyrail had hoped to run more trains but had to change its contingency plans "because train drivers, who are not part of the industrial action taking place on the Merseyrail network today, have decided not to cross RMT picket lines".

"We've made it clear to the RMT that we won't meet with them whilst they persist with wholly unnecessary industrial action".