A strike is set to cause travel chaos just after Christmas and on New Year’s Eve.
Union members from two companies are going on strike over bitter disputes over the role of guards on trains.
Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union on South Western Railway will walk out for 24 hours on December 31 and on Greater Anglia on December 27.
The union revealed that it had met Transport Secretary Chris Grayling in a bid to resolve the disputes affecting five rail operators, but said there were ‘contradictory messages and confusion’ from the minister and his department.
A statement issued by RMT confirmed the Greater Anglia members would be staging a walk out from 00.01 to 23.59 hours on Wednesday 27th December 2017.
While South Western Railway members will take strike action from 00.01 hours to 23.59 on Sunday 31st December 2017.
RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said: ‘It’s the continuing failure of the train companies and their political puppet masters in Government to make any attempt whatsoever to resolve these disputes over rail safety that has led us to call action today and the responsibility for the disruption that will be caused lays fairly and squarely at their door.
‘At the meeting yesterday with the Secretary of State Chris Grayling and the Rail Minister Paul Maynard we were told that we could reach a deal with the employers to keep a second person on the train and we were also offered further talks to discuss our concerns around driver only trains and accessibility.’
Cash added: ‘But then within an hour of that meeting I received letter from Chris Grayling asking the union to accept the principle of Driver Only Operation which as everyone knows reduces accessibility because there is no longer guard to assist older and disabled passengers who need assistance. Astonishingly I have also been made aware that Chris Grayling has written to the train companies with the same letter.
‘There is chaos and confusion in the rail industry surrounding the Governments positon which makes it almost impossible to negotiate and I have written to Chris Grayling to express my concern at this lack of clarity and contradictory messages but also to offer further talks not least on the vital issue of accessibility.
‘It really should be straight forward – the Scottish and Welsh Governments have agreed to keep the guards on our trains so there is no reason why the UK government cannot as well.’
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