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  1. ITV Report

Fresh rail strikes to disrupt New Year's Eve travel

Staff on CrossCountry are set to strike over Sunday working. Credit: PA

Rail passengers are being warned to expect disruption on New Year's Eve as unions plan fresh strikes in long running disputes over the role of guards on trains and other issues .

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union on South Western Railway (SWR) and CrossCountry will walk out for 24 hours on Sunday.

The union is planning more strikes in January against SWR, Southern, Merseyrail, Greater Anglia and Arriva Rail North in the bitter row over guards.

The CrossCountry dispute is over rosters and Sunday working. Three days of talks before Christmas, supported by the conciliation service Acas, failed to reach an agreement with the RMT.

The SWR strike will disrupt services to and from London Waterloo, the busiest railway station in the country.

Union bosses blamed train companies and "their political puppet masters in Government".

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: "There is chaos and confusion in the rail industry surrounding the Government's position which makes it almost impossible to negotiate and I have written again to Chris Grayling (Transport Secretary) to express my concern at this lack of clarity and contradictory messages but also to offer further talks not least on the vital issue of accessibility.

"We should be allowed a clear opportunity to negotiate a deal with South Western Railway that underpins the guard guarantee."

Andy Mellors, SWR Managing Director, said the company had put in contingency plans and around three-quarters of a normal train service will run.

A spokesman for CrossCountry said: "Once again we urge the RMT to call off the strike scheduled for New Year's Eve, and to put the offer we made some time ago, which would see their hourly Sunday overtime rate increase by 48%, to a vote by its members.

"If the RMT do not call off the strike then we will do everything we can to help our customers complete their journeys."

Mr Cash said of the CrossCountry dispute: "It is the company's ineptitude and arrogance that has forced us to take this further round of action which we know will lead to major disruption."

Rail Minister Paul Maynard said: "It is disgraceful that the RMT is seeking to cause misery to paying customers trying to get home to family and friends for the new year.

"Rail companies are working hard to keep passengers moving, and plan to run the majority of services, but we call on the RMT to show some decency and call off thesestrikes."