Five rail operators are experiencing disruption due to strike action by the Rail, Maritime and Transport union.Workers on Southern, Greater Anglia and South Western Railway are striking for 48 hours, while staff on Merseyrail and Northern have walked out for 24 hours.The union is in dispute over driver-only operated (DOO) trains, also known as driver-controlled operated (DCO). Aslef is also in dispute with Southern, and will give the result of a ballot of train drivers on a proposed deal later.The proposed agreement, announced last month, also includes a five-year pay deal worth 28.5%.The executive committee of the train drivers’ union had recommended its members accept the deal.
Safety concernsMembers of the RMT union are mostly conductors.Its dispute with Southern’s parent company, Govia Thameslink (GTR), over DOO trains has seen a spate of strikes on Southern since April 2016 amid concerns over safety and job losses.Changes were introduced on Southern in January to make conductors “on-board supervisors” and pass responsibility for closing doors to drivers.Industrial action by RMT members has only recently spread to other routes across England.Southern said services on most of its routes would operate normally on Wednesday and Thursday, although there would be some alterations. However, signalling problems exacerbated changes and led to delays and cancellations during people’s morning commute. Greater Anglia said it would be running a full service during the industrial action, using other trained staff in place of conductors. But the morning did not go as smoothly as promised.Its plan was approved on Tuesday by the Office of Rail and Road, which criticised the company’s contingency arrangements during a strike last month following an incident in which the doors on the wrong side of a train were opened at Ipswich station.South Western Railway (SWR), which only took over the franchise from South West Trains in August, plans to run more than 60% of services, and has published a contingency timetable including replacement buses on some routes.
However, the RMT has voiced its concerns about the plans.General Secretary Mick Cash said: “The only way that Greater Anglia can be running these services is through taking serious risks with public safety just as they did during the last phase of strike action.”Rail companies are training up rail staff who have previously had no rail operational experience to stand in as highly trained guards.”In some cases staff are being bussed in by other train companies not involved in the dispute, paid a bounty and put up overnight in hotels.”Merseyrail said a reduced train service would operate across its network during the 24-hour strike, while Northern said it planned to run more than 1,300 services, mostly between 07:00 and 19:00 GMT.A spokesman for the Department for Transport said: “This dispute is not about jobs or safety – employees have been guaranteed jobs and salaries. In fact at Southern Rail, where these changes have already been introduced, there are now more staff on trains.”The independent rail regulator has said driver-controlled trains, which have been used in this country for more than 30 years, are safe.”Has your journey been affected by the dispute? Let us know about your experiences. Email [email protected] with your stories.Please include a contact number if you are willing to speak to a BBC journalist. You can also contact us in the following ways:WhatsApp: +44 7525 900971
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Source: BBC Tyne and Wear