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Talks bid to avert Merseyrail strike in driver-only trains row

Talks are to be held in a bid to avert further industrial action by workers on Merseyrail in a dispute over driver-only trains.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union staged a 24-hour strike on Monday which caused huge disruption to services, made worse when drivers refused to cross picket lines.

The union is campaigning to keep a second, safety-critical member of staff on new trains due to come into service from 2020.

The talks will be held on Monday, just weeks before next month's world-famous Grand National horse race.

Merseyrail managing director Jan Chaudhry-van der Velde said: "We are very pleased that the RMT has accepted our proposal for talks.

"I am hopeful that they will take these discussions seriously and get behind the decision made by local politicians last December to order these fantastic new trains, which will be much safer than the ones they replace.

"Assuming we can make progress, I am optimistic that the RMT can suspend their industrial action temporarily while we undertake these negotiations.

"The threat of continued strikes will be damaging to our customers and the local economy. With the Grand National festival imminent, the eyes of the world will be on Liverpool.

"A strike to coincide with this high-profile, prestigious event would be detrimental to the reputation of the city region overall, and I sincerely hope the RMT does not consider industrial action over that period."

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: "RMT has said from the start that the union is ready for talks with the company over the safe operation of the new Mersyrail fleet, and our lead officer and guards company council will be attending talks on Monday."

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