Tuesday 28 February 2017 3:13 pm

Strike action spreads as Southern rail, Northern and Merseyrail staff will stage walkouts

A flurry of fresh strike action is set to disrupt Britain's rail services after the RMT announced Southern rail, Northern and Merseyrail will face walkouts.

A one-day walkout has been announced across all three train operators for Monday 13 March as the dispute over the role of the guard spreads.

The RMT said it had been "snubbed" by Southern's parent firm Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) for new talks in their long-running row, and that guards and drivers will strike on the 13 March from 00:01 and 23:59 in the union's 30th day of strike action on the network.


Read more: Go-Ahead shares slump 14 per cent as Southern rail strikes take their toll

Mick Cash, RMT's general secretary, said:

The abject failure by Southern Rail to meet with us, to clarify their exact position on the second safety-critical member of staff and to take the safety issues seriously has left us with no option but to confirm further action.

A Southern spokesperson said: “We asked the RMT executive to suspend any further action when they met today so that talks could take place, instead they have chosen to put their members through even more pointless industrial action. They say they want to talk, but they are hell-bent on further strike misery and causing disruption and hardship to people’s everyday work and family lives."

Elsewhere, the RMT announced members have voted for strike action on Merseyrail and Northern, so walkouts have been instructed for the same day as the Southern strike – on 13 March.

Members on Merseyrail have also been told not to work any rest days from 7 March indefinitely.

Merseyrail said in a statement that it was "committed to continuing dialogue with the RMT", but would also work hard to "provide the highest level of service possible under the challenging conditions of future strikes".


A spokesman for Arriva Rail North, which trades as Northern, said the strike announcement was "a shame" and it intends "to reach a construction resolution" and "protect jobs and pay". Northern also said it will have plans in place to keep customers moving if strike action goes ahead.

The RMT held its latest strike last week, though GTR said Southern had run nine out of 10 services during the strike and called the union's action "increasingly impotent and ineffective".

It comes on the day transport firm Go-Ahead announced a full-year profit warning as the Southern rail strikes took their toll.

Interim earnings at its rail division plummeted 35 per cent on the back of months of Southern rail disruption.

The transport giant, which owns 65 per cent of the Southern franchise through GTR, said full-year results were lowered due to "the challenges in GTR" as rail operating profit slumped 35 per cent to £26.9m.

Read more: Southern rail brushes off floppy RMT action

Go-Ahead chief executive David Brown said discussions with trade unions "are ongoing as we strive to reach a full resolution of these issues".

Train drivers' union Aslef had reached an agreement with Southern which was expected to end that dispute earlier this month.

However, a referendum of members resulted in them rejecting the deal, so the union and train firm are trying to hash out a fresh deal.

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