London Midland conductors threaten strike action
Train conductors on London Midland's service have announced they will take a vote over strike action.
The rail union RMT said it was balloting its 523 members over the proposed imposition of security contractors on trains.
The union said the company's move was made without agreement. The ballot closes on 2 February.
London Midland said it was "very disappointed" the RMT was threatening action.
A spokesman for London Midland said the security contractors are there to "provide extra eyes and ears" in support of the conductor.
"It is to look out for things like fare evaders, smoking on trains and feet on seats."
He added the staff would not be on every train and stressed the role is to "offer support" to the senior conductor.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: "The imposition of external contractors who have no additional skills or powers of authority to remove unruly passengers or fare dodgers is something we are totally opposed to."
London Midland said the proposed changes were in reaction to feedback from front-line staff and passengers.
A spokesman for the train operator said: "The security contractors are in addition to the senior conductors and have different duties.
"This is about safety. As we have told the RMT many times, we have no intention of removing conductors from our trains."
The RMT said it had been "left with no option but to ballot" after London Midland management failed to respond to its questions and proposals.