Misery for commuters as strikes hit four rail firms

Train passengers are facing delays and cancellations today as workers from four rail companies go on strike.

South Western Railway (SWR), Arriva Rail North (Northern), Merseyrail and Greater Anglia are affected by the 24-hour walkout being staged by the RMT union.

It follows industrial action on Monday in the long-running dispute over the role of train guards, while more strikes are planned for Friday.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said it pressed ahead with Wednesday’s industrial action after efforts to reach settlements with the train operators over safe staffing had been “kicked back in our faces”.

He added: “No one should be in any doubt, these disputes are about putting the safety of the travelling public before the profits of the private train companies.

“It is frankly ludicrous that we have been able to negotiate long-term arrangements in Scotland and Wales that protect the guards and passenger safety but we are being denied the same opportunities with rail companies in England.”

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Commuters board a Greater Anglia train at Shenfield in Essex during Monday's strike

Image: Greater Anglia passengers at Shenfield in Essex during Monday’s strikes

Northern said it would run more than half its normal timetable on Wednesday, with most services between 7am and 7pm.

SWR plans to operate more than 70% of its normal weekday service, while Merseyrail will run a reduced service, mostly between 7am and 7pm, with a break during the middle of the day.

Greater Anglia said it plans to run a normal service with no alterations.

The RMT claimed Transport Secretary Chris Grayling failed to respond to a call for a summit aimed at resolving the dispute.

The union has raised concerns about safety and job losses related to plans for new driver-only operated trains.

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The Department for Transport (DfT) responded by saying Mr Grayling had met with union leaders “on several occasions, including as recently as December, to help bring an end to the strikes”.

A DfT spokesman said: “Nobody is losing their job as a result of driver-controlled operation trains – employees have been guaranteed jobs and salaries for several years.”