October chaos on the cards as RMT sets rail walkouts for same day as Tube strike

Rebecca Smith
The row has been running on Southern rail for over a year
The row has been running on Southern rail for over a year (Source: Getty)

Workers on Southern rail, Merseyrail, Arriva Rail North and Greater Anglia are set to strike on two days in October in disputes over the role of guards, the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union announced today.

Strikes will be held between 00:01 and 23:59 on Tuesday 3 October and Thursday 5 October. The latter date also happens to be the day a Tube strike is planned in the capital, with members of Aslef staging a walkout in a dispute over working conditions.

Read more: Here's what you need to know about the upcoming Tube strike

The RMT said its members will take two days of action over the potential extension of so-called driver only-operation after it accused Southern rail of failing to guarantee the role of the guard.

The union has been in a long-running row with the train operator over the issue, and said today it is taking further action, after the government and Southern owner Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) did not respond to the RMT's call for roundtable talks.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash, said:

RMT has a clear plan for resolving this dispute but that requires round table talks now to push forwards. This fiasco cannot be allowed to drag on any longer. The union stands ready and waiting for genuine and meaningful talks with all parties and we are pressing Mr Grayling to get his contractors into line as a matter of urgency.

Nick Brown, chief operating officer for GTR, said:

We are disappointed by this unnecessary action and the RMT's continued refusal to engage with us in modernising the railway. Last strike, we ran a normal service on most of our routes but passengers will inevitably be affected in places and we deeply regret any inconvenience these strikes will cause.

Modernisation is urgently required to future-proof and increase capacity on this, the busiest part of the UK railway where passenger numbers have doubled in 12 years.

The row has since spread to other train operators, with a spate of industrial action being held across Merseyrail and Arriva Rail North.

Merseyrail criticised the timing of the strikes, saying they were set to coincide with upgrade work on Liverpool Lime Street.

Jan Chaudhry-van der Velde, Merseyrail’s managing director, said: “We are busy trying to build a better city region with an improved railway. The RMT seem to be doing everything in their power to destroy this work. Don’t they want Liverpool to succeed?”

The train company will publish an amended timetable, and details for alternative travel arrangements in the coming week.

Read more: Uh oh: A 24-hour Tube strike is planned for next month

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