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Arriva Rail North, Merseyrail and Southern staff to stage walk-outs

Strikes called this weekend over staffing and driver-only trains

Rail passengers will suffer more travel misery because of a fresh wave of strikes in bitter disputes over staffing and driver-only trains.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union on Arriva Rail North will walk out for three days from Saturday. Merseyrail members will walk out on Saturday and Monday.

Union members on Southern will stage a 24-hour strike on Monday, more than a year after taking their first industrial action against the company over changes to the role of guards.

Arriva North said it was planning to run 40% of services on revised timetables from 7am to 7pm on Saturday and Monday, and from 9am to 5pm on Sunday.

Most Merseyrail services are planned to run every half an hour from 7am to 7pm, although they will not stop at some stations.

Passengers were advised to check before they travel and warned that timetables could change during the industrial action.

Jan Chaudhry-van der Velde, managing director at Merseyrail, said: “The Merseyrail team has put together the best possible timetable that we can to provide a limited train service on both strike days. I would urge all our customers to check before they travel.”

Sharon Keith, regional director at Northern, said: “We are doing everything we can to keep our customers on the move during the three days of industrial action affecting our network.

“We will be running more than 40% of our usual services, but those trains that do run will be on an amended timetable and are likely to be extremely busy. We ask our customers to plan carefully, allow extra time for travel, and to consider whether their journeys are necessary.”

Frank Rogers, chief executive of Merseytravel, added:” While rail travellers will be most directly affected, other people travelling in and around the city region are likely to be impacted.

“That’s why we are asking everyone who travels in the city region, either on the train, bus, ferry or in a car, to plan ahead, check timetables and allow more time for their journeys.”

Southern Railway services are currently being disrupted by an overtime ban by drivers in the Aslef union.

A company spokesman said: “We don’t expect the RMT union’s strike to have any effect on our service on Monday, and we plan to run the amended timetable that’s in place during Aslef’s driver overtime ban.”

Mick Cash, general secretary of the RMT, accused Transport Secretary Chris Grayling of blocking a settlement of the Southern dispute.

He said: “Even the Government-backed Gibb report into Southern Rail admitted that the Secretary of State is determining the direction of this dispute.

“The reason this dispute is now entering its 15th month is because the Government has backed the employer. MPs now need to ask when the Government is going to back a fair settlement instead.”

The union is campaigning against plans by Merseyrail and Arriva for new trains to be driver-controlled.

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