Aslef to announce result of Southern Railway deal ballot
The result of a ballot of train drivers on whether to end a long-running dispute on Southern Railway will be announced today, in a crucial week for the industry.
Members of Aslef have been voting on a deal aimed at resolving the bitter row over staffing and driver-only trains on Southern.
Passengers have suffered almost a year of disruption on some of the busiest routes in the country because of industrial action and other issues such as staff shortages.
Aslef leaders have recommended that the deal should be accepted, believing it is the best that can be achieved.
A previous proposed agreement was surprisingly rejected by drivers and today's result is expected to be close.
Union leaders - who held almost three weeks of talks with Southern following the rejection - argue the deal means Southern will have a second, safety-critical person on trains except in exceptional circumstances such as staff affected by last-minute sickness or travel delays.
The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union is staging its 31st day of strike action against Southern on April 8, although the two sides are due to have talks after the Aslef ballot result is known.
RMT members on Merseyrail and Arriva Trains North are also striking on April 8 - the day of the Grand National - in similar disputes over driver-only trains.
The two companies have issued details of emergency timetables they will run, including services before and after the Grand National at Aintree.
The RMT accused Merseyrail of putting the public at risk by running a "skeleton" service.
General Secretary Mick Cash said: "Instead of ripping up the safety rule book, and scrambling round to run a high-risk, scab-operated skeleton service on April 8, Merseyrail should be back round the table with the union investing their time and energy in reaching a sustainable solution to this dispute which guarantees passenger safety.
"The union is taking up the company plans for April 8 with the safety regulator and will not stand aside and look on while the safety of the travelling public is compromised in this cavalier fashion."
Paul Barnfield, regional director for Northern, said: "We are doing everything we can to keep customers on the move on April 8.
"Unfortunately, planned strike action will severely limit our services, with the majority of the trains that we do run operating between 9am and 5pm.
"On Grand National day, Northern usually provides additional train services to help as many people as possible into Liverpool to enjoy their day at Aintree.
"Wherever possible we have provided extra carriages on the trains we are able to operate but racegoers need to know Northern's last train out of Liverpool Lime Street will leave at 6.30pm.
"To get a Northern train home, visitors will need to leave Aintree well before the last races.
"All of Northern's services will be limited and we ask customers to plan their travel carefully."