Merseyrail-RMT dispute over guards on trains continues as talks collapse

Image source, Merseytravel
Image caption, Merseyrail plans to introduce a new fleet of driver-only trains from 2020

Rail commuters face the prospect of more strikes on Merseyrail services after talks between management and the RMT union ended without agreement.

RMT members held two strikes, including on Grand National day, in protest at Merseyrail's plan to introduce driver-only-operated trains from 2020.

Merseyrail bosses rejected the RMT's offer to put the issues of train despatch and door operation to a joint safety working group, the union said.

The company said it was "disappointed".

Merseyrail's managing director Jan Chaudhry-van der Velde said an offer had been made to put a member of staff on trains after 20:00 GMT but "the RMT have not moved from their original position".

"We are trying hard to create some middle ground so that the negotiation can move forward," he added.

He said bosses would in the meantime prepare for more strike action while "keeping the door open" for further talks.

Image caption, Of Merseyrail, RMT general secretary Mick Cash said "all they wanted to discuss was the terms of our surrender"

John Tilley, who led the RMT negotiating team, said Merseyrail "have not budged even a fraction of an inch" and want "the complete abolition of Merseyrail guards".

"We offered to accept recommendations on despatch and door control from a safety working group that would include the company, the unions, the manufacturers and the safety agencies, if Merseyrail accepted the principle of a second safety-critical crew-member on every train," said the union's general secretary Mick Cash.

"Merseyrail's intransigence leaves us with no alternative but to return to the picket lines," Mr Tilley said.

No dates for further strikes have yet been announced.

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