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Strikes by railway workers set to spread to third operator

Southern Railway will join Arriva Rail North and Merseyrail in a walk-out on Monday.

Strikes by railway workers over staffing and driver-only trains will spread to a third operator on Monday ahead of another crucial week for the industry.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union launched a three-day walkout on Arriva Rail North on Saturday, which led to the cancellation of more than half of services.

Union members on Merseyrail were on strike on Saturday and will take action again on Monday.

Southern Railway will be hit by a strike on Monday, the 33rd time RMT members will have walked out in a dispute over the role of conductors which started more than a year ago.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “That there is no agreement yet points to the continued hand of Transport Secretary Chris Grayling blocking a settlement, with even the Government-backed Gibb report into Southern Rail admitting 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 have backed the employer. MPs now need to ask when the Government is going to back a fair settlement instead.”

Southern services are already being disrupted because of an overtime ban by drivers in the Aslef union.

A Southern 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.”

A strike ballot among Aslef members on Southern over pay closes on Thursday, threatening fresh disruption if drivers vote in favour.

Mr Grayling will have to decide by the end of the week if the disruption over the past year has been outside Southern’s control or face a court case.

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Transport Secretary Chris Grayling have to decide by the end of the week if the disruption over the past year has been outside Southern's control or face a court case (David Mirzoeff/PA)

A High Court judge gave the minister 14 days from June 29 to make a decision or there will be a judicial review of the Government’s handling of the Southern Rail franchise.

The ruling followed a case taken by the Association of British Commuters on behalf of Southern’s passengers, who have suffered more than a year of disruption because of industrial action, staff shortages and other problems.

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