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Weekly Edition - Publication date:- 2017-01-13

-en Southport & Mersey Reporter

Local News Report  - Mobile Page


Rail strikes looming for Merseyrail commuters

THE scenes witnessed this year, in London, of travel chaos coursed by the Tube Strikes, have resulted in banner headlines around the world. As we head into Brexit, strikes like this are, according to some business leaders, extremely dangerous and can result in the loss of confidence from international investors. Whether this is true or false, a real financial impact of the strike, in London, has been felt and it has produced bad headlines, just at the wrong time. Now, on Merseyside, we are facing the real possibility of a strike as well, which could result in the Merseyrail network being shut down. Just as in London, at stake are over jobs and new trains, but also according to the Rail Union RMT, the safety of the public is going to be at risk.

On Merseyside the latest announcement, by the RMT, follows on from Merseyrail getting the "green light" to buy "state of the art trains" to replace the current rolling stock, back in December 2016. Merseyrail also said that as a result, the network?s guards would be removed from operations on its services, due to the fact the new rolling stock will be driver only operated units.  When the idea of diver only units 1st came about, it lead to the RMT, back in September 2015 issuing statements about them having:- "grave concerns over the downgrading of passenger safety."  They also had huge concerns over the future job security of fleet maintenance workers affected by the decision, so following on from December's headlines, it was on the cards that the RMT would take action.

This latest RMT announcement comes soon after news headlines about a train driver appearing in the Magistrates Court, accused of dragging a woman along a platform, when her hand was stuck in a carriage door. That incident, took place on 25 July 2016, at Hayes and Harlington Station. The case has since been referred by Highbury Magistrates to Blackfriars Crown Court, with the trial date set for sometime in February 2017. How this case will affect or not affect things, both here and in London, are yet to be seen. But it has added weight to the RMT?s arguments at this point in time.

We are told that on 11 January 2017, the RMT informed Merseyrail that it will be in dispute, should they fail:- "to provide cast iron assurances around the future of the safety critical role of the guards, on the network, by 26 January 2017."  RMT general secretary, Mick Cash then told the media that:- "The Union?s position on Driver Only Operation is perfectly clear. We will not agree to any extensions of DOO and will fight to retain the safety critical role of the guard and to keep a guard on the train. RMT has asked Merseyrail on numerous occasions for assurances that any new trains will have a second, safety critical crew member on board and that the guard will be retained on all services. To date, the company has failed to provide the Union with these assurances. If Scotrail, which is run by Abellio, the same franchisee that operates Merseyrail, can introduce new trains with guards, then so can Merseyrail. And if Stadler, which is building the Merseyrail trains, can build conventionally operated trains for the Greater Anglia franchise, which is also run by Abellio, then it can build them for Merseyrail. I have written to Merseyrail and informed them that if we haven?t received assurances over the safety critical role of the guard, by 26 January 2017, then we will be in dispute with the company."

If you would like to see what the new trains will look like and more information about them, you can do so via clicking here to see our report from November 2016.  So what are your views on this issue? Are you affected by the plans or do you feel like the RMT safety is at stake. Do you like what Merseyrail and Liverpool City Region are planning? We want views from all sides, so please email our newsroom to:- News24@SouthportReporter.Com.


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