RMT Union and Merseyrail reach 'driver-only' dispute agreement

Merseyrail train Image copyright Merseytravel
Image caption The dispute relates to the launch of the new Merseyrail fleet in 2021

The RMT Union and Merseyrail have agreed that so-called driver-only operated trains should have a second member of staff on them.

The agreement "in principle" has come after a long running dispute which saw the two sides enter ACAS talks.

It is subject to the provision and approval of an "appropriate, affordable and sustainable" funding package which could lead to increased fares.

The dispute relates to the launch of the new Merseyrail fleet in 2021.

There will be no further industrial action while the process of compiling the final package is ongoing.

In a joint statement the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, Merseyrail and the RMT Union said that "in order to pay for a second member of staff on each train, additional funding will now need to be generated".

The statement said "additional means will also need to be considered by all parties, which could include an enhanced crackdown on fare evasion and increased fares".

'Compromise on all sides'

The design of the new trains proposes that the door control and dispatch of the trains will transfer to the driver.

No-one currently employed as a guard will lose their employment as a result of the introduction of the new fleet in 2021, the statement continued.

It concludes that all parties are now developing a full agreement, which will take "some months" and will require "compromise on all sides".

The role and safety responsibilities of the second member will need to be agreed.

Liverpool Mayor Steve Rotheram said: "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."

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, added: "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."

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