A series of rail strikes are taking place leaving passengers across England facing widespread disruption.RMT union members at Southern, Merseyrail, Arriva Rail North and Greater Anglia walked out at 07:00 BST and plan another strike on Thursday over the scrapping of guards.London Underground drivers belonging to the union Aslef are also due to strike on Thursday.The London Overground and DLR will be unaffected.The RMT said pickets will be out in force, telling the public that plans to scrap guards is part of a “co-ordinated strategy” driven by the government.What does a train guard do?The strikes coincide with a planned closure of Liverpool Lime Street for refurbishment, something the boss of Merseyrail, Jan Chaudhry-van der Velde, said “doubled up the inconvenience”.”While the industry and key players in the [Liverpool] City Region work hard to improve the railway, the RMT seems to be doing everything in its power to stop it,” Mr Chaudhry-van der Velde said.RMT general secretary Mick Cash said RMT members “are standing absolutely rock solid and united” and “the public and workplace support… is nothing short of fantastic”.
Southern’s passenger services director Angie Doll said: “The RMT is striking about changes we made almost a year ago as part of our modernisation programme.”Nobody has lost their job over this, in fact we employ more on-board staff to help passengers than we did before, and we are providing a better service with fewer cancelled trains.”Northern Rail’s regional director, Sharon Keith, said she wants to work with the unions. “We’re in the middle of a large modernisation agenda so we’re investing in new trains [and] refurbished trains and what we want to do with our people is to modernise that role.”‘Dangerously full’Mr Cash, from the RMT, said rail companies were frustrated at being used as “political pawns”, while rail minister Paul Maynard accused the RMT of “using passengers as pawns in their political game”. “This dispute is not about jobs as all the companies have guaranteed posts and I have been clear I want to see more people working on the railways, not fewer,” Mr Maynard said.”It’s not about safety either as the independent regulator has ruled that driver-controlled trains are safe.”The strikes are having a knock-on effect on other services, with TransPennine Express reporting passenger complaints about “dangerously full” trains.
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Greater Anglia is attempting to run a full service , and Southern said it would attempt to run a normal service on most of its routes. Arriva Rail North says it will run about 1,200 services across the north, 46% of its normal timetable, on both days between 07:00 BST and 19:00 BST. Most Merseyrail services will run between 07:00 and 19:00, with a break during the middle of the day, and some stations will be closed.
Tube strikeLondon’s Tube strike, due to start at midnight on Thursday, is about a pay deal agreed between drivers and transport bosses in 2015. Aslef, which represents the majority of Tube drivers, said bosses have failed on a commitment to give its members the opportunity to work a four-day week and reduce the number of weekend shifts.Tube strike: 14 ways to overcome itBut London Underground said a recent trial of new shift patterns has only just finished and the results are yet to be analysed.Transport for London says it will put more buses on key routes during the strike but urged people to walk if possible as services “will be exceptionally busy”.What questions do you have about the rail strikes? Use the form below to ask us and we could be in touch.
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Source: BBC Tyne and Wear