Deal agreed in principle over guards on Merseytrail trains

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A deal has been agreed in principle to resolve a long-running dispute over guards on trains at Merseyrail.

The row was one of a number involving the Rail, Maritime and Transport union about keeping a guard on trains, which has led to a series of strikes across the country.

A joint statement said: “The Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, Merseyrail and the RMT union have today agreed in principle that, subject to the provision and approval of an appropriate, affordable and sustainable funding package, the new fleet of Merseyrail trains, will have a second member of staff on board the train.”

Andy Heath, Merseyrail managing director, said: “Merseyrail and its shareholders have given our support to this agreement as we have always been clear that any dispute between us and the RMT will only be resolved through talks.”

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “Today’s 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.”

The dispute has been raging since last year, with a series of strikes which caused travel disruption for Merseyrail passengers.

The RMT recently agreed a deal with Greater Anglia on the same issue but remains in dispute with Southern, South Western Railway (SWR) and Arriva Rail North (Northern).

A three-day strike on SWR started on Friday while RMT members on Northern will walk out for 24 hours on Saturday.

Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor, Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, said: “I am pleased that we are agreeing in principle that there will be a second member of staff on board the train when the new, state-of-the-art Merseyrail fleet is fully in place in 2021.

“Today’s announcement is huge progress but I also want to be clear that it requires a significant financial commitment and hard choices on all sides.

“This has to be kept in mind alongside the reality of the substantial reductions in funding that Merseytravel will receive from government over the next 10 years.”

The joint statement added: “In order to pay for a second member of staff on each train, additional funding will now need to be generated.

“Productivity proposals have come forward that will cover some of the required funding, however additional means will also need to be considered by all parties, which could include an enhanced crackdown on fare evasion and increased fares.”

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