NORTHERN RAIL said today it had “plans in place” to run a revised service during a threatened strike by members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) on Monday, March 13.
Union members from Northern and Merseyrail are Southern Rail say they will strike on the same day in a row over the future of guards on trains.
Mick Cash, RMT general secretary, said: “The abject failure by Southern Rail to meet with us, to clarify their exact position on the second safety-critical member of staff and to take the safety issues seriously has left us with no option but to confirm further action.
“These disputes could have been settled if Southern/GTR had sat down and listened to our case and given the guarantee of a second-safety critical member of staff on their trains.”
Mr Cash said bosses from both Northern and Merseyrail had failed to guarantee that guards would be kept on trains.
In January, Northern faced ridicule after one of its drivers pulled away from Burley-in-Wharfedale Station, near Ilkley, leaving the guard behind on the platform. Passengers were locked in carriages while a taxi was summoned to pick up the guard.
Northern said today it would “keep passengers moving” during any strike.
A spokesman for the company said: “As our modernisation proposals are still in the early stages, it is a shame that RMT has announced strike action for Monday March 13.
“Our aim is to reach a constructive resolution and we urge RMT to continue the talks we have already started.
“We want to protect jobs and pay, and during our recent discussions we offered to consult fully with our people, customers and key stakeholders.
“If strike action goes ahead, our customers can be reassured that we have plans in place to keep them moving. During any strike action, we plan to run a revised service and will shortly release further information.”
A Merseyrail spokesman said: “Industrial action relates to the new fleet of trains, coming into service during 2020, which will no longer require the role of guards due to the way the trains will be operated. However, around 60 on-board customer service positions will be created.
“Ensuring passengers feel safe and secure continues to be the number one priority, and these people will work on board the new trains, to assist and reassure passengers.
“As things stand, none of today’s guards will be forced to leave Merseyrail’s employment.
“We have promised that any member of staff who is currently employed as a guard and wants to stay at Merseyrail will be guaranteed permanent employment in an alternative position, on the same terms and conditions as now, subject to successful negotiation between Merseyrail and the relevant trade unions, once the new trains are introduced.”
A spokesman for the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train operators and Network Rail, said: “Rail companies want to harness technology and smarter ways of working to give passengers a better, more modern service and these coordinated strikes will cause nothing but needless disruption.
“On the Southern network, hundreds of thousands of our customers have already suffered months of walkouts.
“The strikes are not about safety, jobs or pay but about changes to provide a better service for customers.
“Trains where drivers close the doors have run safely across Britain for more than 30 years and independent experts say they are safe.”