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Dispute over future of rail conductors could see Greater Anglia trains hit by strike action

Greater Anglia services could be affected by strike action. Pic: Sonya Duncan.

Greater Anglia services could be affected by strike action. Pic: Sonya Duncan.

ARCHANT EASTERN DAILY PRESS (01603) 772434

A dispute between rail operator Greater Anglia and union RMT could see the region's trains hit by strike action.

Rail union RMT is to hold a ballot because they are concerned about the possibility of more trains where doors are operated only by drivers.

The ballot will be for both strike action and action short of a strike, with the union saying the company failed to give a guarantee on the role of the guard throughout the franchise length.

But the rail operator says it is committed to the guards - also known as conductors - on trains between Norwich and London and on rural routes in Norfolk.

Richard Dean, Greater Anglia train service delivery director, said: “We have conductors on our Intercity service between Norwich and London Liverpool Street and on our rural routes across East Anglia.

“They are highly valued colleagues and we have no plans to remove them from our trains. In fact, we have a new conductors training course starting in August.

“We hold regular meetings with the unions which represent our colleagues. These meetings will continue as we remain available for talks to resolve this issue.”

Greater Anglia will introduce new trains between January 2019 and September 2020 under its new franchise agreement with the government.

But the union says, at a recent meeting, the rail operator’s management failed to provide union representatives with the assurances they had been seeking, with respect to the role and responsibilities of guards now and for the length of the franchise.

The NEC has agreed to ballot all conductors, senior conductors and affected train driver members at Greater Anglia for strike action and industrial action short of a strike.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “Greater Anglia have been given every opportunity to give a guarantee on the future role of the guard on their services. They have failed to do so.

“RMT will not sit back and wait for the company any longer and we have no option but to begin preparations for a ballot in order to protect safety and access on Greater Anglia services.

“The union remains available for further talks around the crucial issue of the guard guarantee.”

A ballot date has yet to be set.

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