Further rail disruption in continued dispute over guards on trains

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Rail services were disrupted again on Saturday because of fresh strikes in the long-running dispute over guards on trains.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union were said to be “solidly supporting” a 24-hour walkout on South Western Railway (SWR) and Arriva Rail North (Northern).

Picket lines were mounted outside stations across the country and many services were cancelled or replaced with buses.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “RMT members are standing rock solid again this morning on both Northern and South Western Railway in the long-running fight for safety, security and access on our trains while the private train companies gamble with their passengers well-being.

“As violence and sexual assaults escalate on Britain’s dangerous railways, this is no time to be taking risks in the interest of profit.

“RMT has written yet again to both companies seeking talks around the principle of putting safety on the railway first and both have refused to even respond.

“That stalemate cannot be allowed to continue as it makes a mockery of normal industrial relations and the negotiating process.

“It’s time for both these companies to stop taking instructions from this shambles of a Government, get out of the bunker and start talking seriously and positively with the union on the issue of the guard guarantee instead of gambling with public safety as they pump up their profits.

“We thank the public for their continuing support and understanding that these disputes are all about safety and passenger service on Britain’s increasingly violent and dangerous railways.”

An SWR spokesman said: “We have repeatedly guaranteed to roster a train guard on every single service we run. Our plans mean more guards, not fewer.

“It’s time for the RMT union to commit to resolving their dispute which only causes misery for customers.

“We will do everything we can to keep customers moving and reduce disruption whenever the RMT strikes.”

The ARN strike is the 14th consecutive Saturday walkout, leading to very few trains running before 9am and after 6pm.

Richard Allan, deputy managing director of Northern said: “We have written to RMT several times in recent weeks asking them to suspend industrial action and come back to talks at Acas, which Northern asked for and set up in September.

“We encourage RMT to suspend its strike action and invite them again to talk to Northern about the agreements that RMT has reached at other train operators.

“The RMT strikes are affecting customers who want to enjoy Christmas markets and important seasonal events and damaging the economy.

“Talking costs nothing so we urge RMT to come back to Acas talks.”

Engineering work on parts of both operators will also see some disruption to services during the weekend.

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