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Rail strikes to hit much of UK in January in dispute over train guards

Credit: PA

Rail strikes are to hit large swatches of the UK in January as unions vote to walk out in a long-running dispute over guards.

Workers on Southern, South Western Railway, Greater Anglia, Merseyrail, Arriva Rail North and the Isle of Wight's Island Line are all set to stage a series of 24-hour strikes, the RMT union announced.

The actions are over proposed changes to reduce guards on trains, which the union says will risk passenger safety.

Union members on Northern, Merseyrail, Greater Anglia, South Western Railways and Island Line will strike on the 8th, 10th and 12th of January 2018.

Southern workers will walk out for one 24-hour strike only, on the 8th of January 2018.

Mick Cash: Changes could put passengers at risk. Credit: PA

RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said: "No one should be in any doubt, these disputes are about putting the safety of the travelling public before the profits of the private train companies."

He said they had tried to negotiate but had been left with "no option" but to call strikes.

The union also accused the Government of "interfering" in the talks with railways to reach a resolution over the plans to extend driver-only operations on trains.

Rail firms said they will try to keep services running despite the strikes.

Richard Allan, Arriva North's deputy managing director, said the Government wrote to RMT last week, guaranteeing employment for conductors beyond 2025 if the union ends its dispute.