'All options considered' to resolve row over train guards
Talks are to be held in a bid to resolve one of the bitter disputes over the role of guards on trains.
Merseyrail said independent conciliation talks will go ahead on Thursday with leaders of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union.
The company is one of five train operators embroiled in a long-running row over staffing on trains and planned driver-controlled operation on new stock.
Jane English, human resources director at Merseyrail, said: "It's early days yet in the process but I am pleased that the RMT has taken this first step in endorsing independent conciliation as a means to getting an end to this dispute.
"On behalf of guards and the public and after several months since the original recommendation of independent conciliation I am pleased that the RMT has now taken up the offer, where all options will be considered to achieve a resolution to this dispute.
"We now look forward to working at getting a suitable agreement."
The union is staging a series of protests this week across the North of England as part of its dispute with Arriva Rail North (Northern) over the same issue.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: "It's bad enough that Northern passengers have not seen any sign of the promised improvements but it is unforgivable that Northern are about to make matters worse by getting rid of guards who do so much to assist passenger service, safety and accessibility.
"What is unbelievable is that because Northern is owned by German state railways, the German railway will profit and get better on the back of these cuts to Northern services and jobs. That is a scandal.
"RMT members will be protesting at stations across the north this week, kicking off today, to highlight our concerns about the attack on jobs and safety by the German state-owned Northern franchise and we will be calling on the Secretary of State for Transport to stop supporting these plans and reverse them."
The dispute started almost two years ago on Southern and has led to a series of strikes and other forms of industrial action.
RMT members on South Western Railway banned rest day working over Easter.