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Liverpool City Region, Merseyrail, RMT end long-running guard dispute

Merseyrail’s newest fleet will have a second member of staff on board after a deal to end the bitter dispute between the RMT and the TOC over the use of additional guards on trains.

In an announcement last week, subject to the provision and approval of a funding package, the second member of staff will be on board the train. RMT general secretary Mick Cash paid tribute to RMT members for their “resilience and solidarity” throughout the campaign.

Funding will be partly sourced from proposals from the ACAS process, however additional means will also be considered by all parties—which could include an enhanced crackdown on fare evasion and increased fares.

The design of the new fleet — due to be introduced in 2021— proposes that the door control and dispatch of the trains will transfer to the driver.

All parties will undertake the work to develop the full agreement, including agreeing the responsibilities of the second member of staff. Whilst the current business case on the plans is revisited, there will be no further industrial action.

Cash said the agreement in principle is “an important and significant development in respect of RMT’s long running campaign to retain a guaranteed second, safety-critical member of staff on Merseyrail trains.

“We now await a fully-formed and detailed set of proposals that the we can take back to our Executive and our members.”

Metro mayor of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority Steve Rotheram said he had “always believed” the only way to end the dispute was by all sides sitting down and talking.

He explained: “I believe this agreement gives us the best chance to successfully deliver and operate the new fleet of trains and therefore is in the best interests of the people of the Liverpool City Region. We will now complete the detailed work to explore and hopefully identify the affordable funding package needed to gain a final agreement.”

Andy Heath, Merseyrail managing director, said: “The commitment from the RMT to continue the suspension of industrial action during this review period will undoubtedly help maintain the continuity of the current phase of ACAS conciliation which will allow us to plan our operational delivery around the major programme of Merseyrail platform modifications and the major events between now and the end of the year.

“During this phase of conciliation we will continue our engagement with both the Combined Authority and the RMT as we explore the feasibility and affordability of a solution to keeping a second person on the new trains.”

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Image credit - wcjohnston


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