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Greater Anglia bosses confident of running rail services despite strike

PUBLISHED: 11:37 02 October 2017 | UPDATED: 11:37 02 October 2017

The dispute is over the new Intercity and rural trains built by Stadler in Switzerland that are due to be introduced by Greater Anglia in two years' time. Picture: GREATER ANGLIA.

The dispute is over the new Intercity and rural trains built by Stadler in Switzerland that are due to be introduced by Greater Anglia in two years' time. Picture: GREATER ANGLIA.

Archant

Rail operator Greater Anglia is confident that services will operate normal on Tuesday and Thursday this week despite strike action affecting some of its trains.

The company has trained back-office staff and managers to take over from conductor/guards who are not working for the two days at the start of industrial action called by the RMT union.

It affects Intercity and rural trains – but not suburban services to London which make up 60% of Greater Anglia routes. The RMT agreed to driver-only operation on those services many years ago.

A spokeswoman for Greater Anglia said on Monday that the rotas for the two strike days had been drawn up – although normal rotas did exist if the action was called off at the 11th hour.

“Our staff have all completed the safety training that is needed and they are ready to staff the trains. We will be running a full service on Tuesday and Thursday. If there are any problems it should not be because of a shortage of conductor/guards.”

After the two one-day strikes, which coincide with the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, the RMT has called for an overtime ban/work to rule for a month starting from next Tuesday.

Both sides in the dispute say they are willing to meet to talk at any time over the dispute, which is over a dispute about the role of guards and whether they should operate the door-locking mechanism on trains.

The Greater Anglia strikes were also co-ordinated with other RMT action on Southern Trains, Northern Rail and Merseyrail franchises.

Most train drivers are unaffected by the dispute because they are members of the ASLEF union which is not in dispute with Greater Anglia.

Only 16 of the company’s 654 drivers are members of the RMT and they have not been rostered to work on the strike days.

Greater Anglia has said that the new trains due to be introduced in the region from 2019 will have doors that will be controlled from the driver’s cab and the railway safety authorities say this is perfectly safe.

The company says it has guaranteed the guards’ jobs until the end of its franchise in 2025.

The RMT says it is vital for safety that the guards continue to have responsibility for opening and closing doors – and do not trust the company’s guarantee.

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