Rail and Tube passengers hit by strikes in disputes over guards and conditions
Millions of rail and Tube passengers will be hit by strikes this week in separate disputes over the role of guards and working conditions.
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Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) at Southern, Merseyrail, Arriva Rail North and Greater Anglia will walk out for 24 hours on Tuesday and Thursday in bitter rows over staffing and driver-only trains.
The Southern dispute is now in its 18th month, with no sign of the deadlock being broken.
Meanwhile members of the drivers' union Aslef on London Underground will strike on Thursday in a row over working conditions.
Transport for London has warned of substantial disruption to Tube services. Last-ditch talks between the two sides will be held on Monday.
The RMT said pickets will be out in force in all its disputes, taking the message to the public that axing of guards is part of a "co-ordinated strategy" driven by the Government.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: "These strikes are about putting the safety and security of the travelling public before the profits of private companies, profits that in the most part are shipped overseas to subsidise transport services in Europe and China. That is a national scandal.
"It is disgraceful that we have been unable to get serious and meaningful talks going in any of these disputes and that points clearly to the dead-hand of the Government driving the faceless railway policy on purely ideological grounds and demanding that their contractors fall in line."
The RMT has written to Merseyrail's joint owners - Abellio and Serco - with what it called a "realistic and fair" proposal to resolve the guards dispute.
The union has also written to Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram urging him to support the initiative.
Greater Anglia is planning to run a full service on the strike days and Southern said there will be a normal service on most of its routes.
Arriva Rail North aims to run around 1,200 services across the North, 46% of its normal timetable, on both days between 7am and 7pm.
Most Merseyrail services will run between 7am and 7pm, with a break during the middle of the day, and some stations will be closed.
Rail minister Paul Maynard said: "The RMT should stop using passengers as pawns in their political game, call off this strike action and return to talks.
"This dispute is not about jobs as all the companies have guaranteed posts and I have been clear I want to see more people working on the railways, not fewer.
"It's not about safety either as the independent regulator has ruled that driver-controlled trains are safe."