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Fresh disruption for rail passengers in guards' dispute

Credit: PA

Rail passengers have been warned there will be a limited service on Saturday because of the first of a fresh wave of strikes in the long-running dispute over guards on trains.

Merseyrail said services will call at selected stations across the network between around 7am and 7pm, with a short break in the middle of the day. All trains will run with six carriages.

There will be no services on Merseyrail's Kirkby and Hunts Cross lines and services will start and terminate at Hooton station on the Chester and Ellesmere Port lines.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union will stage six 24-hour strikes between Saturday and October 4.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said:

After 15 months of difficult negotiations with Merseyrail at Acas we have reached a point where our members feel so strongly that the proposed method of dispatch for the new trains is a less safe option that they are prepared to go back to the picket lines and demand an operational role that applies to all Merseyrail stations that the new trains call at.

"Crucially the train drivers take the same view that the guard should be responsible for the safe dispatch of the train as they are now.

"It is these very guards and drivers who operate the trains day in and day out, and if they are saying they can't accept the proposed method of operation then they must be listened to."

– RMT general secretary Mick Cash

Merseyrail managing director Andy Heath said:

It's extremely disappointing that our customers have to suffer further strike action on the Merseyrail network.

"We have met the demands of the RMT twice and on both occasions they have moved the goalposts.

"We have met the aspirations of the RMT and our customers, who were clear that they wanted a second person on all trains and we had two jointly established deals to guarantee that.

"We are running the best possible service that we can on the upcoming strike day and I would like to apologise to all of our customers who will be affected."

– Merseyrail managing director Andy Heath

RMT members on South Western Railway will strike for four days from August 30 in the same dispute, causing disruption on busy commuter routes into London Waterloo.

Meanwhile, RMT members on London Underground's Central and Victoria lines will strike for 24 hours from 8pm on September 3 in a separate row over industrial relations.