A series of rail strikes have got under way as passengers across England prepare for widespread disruption.RMT union members at Southern, Merseyrail, Arriva Rail North and Greater Anglia walked out at 07:00 BST and plan another strike on Thursday, over the axing of guards.London Underground drivers belonging to the union Aslef are also due to strike on Thursday.The London Overground and DLR will be unaffected.Greater Anglia strikes live updatesThe RMT said pickets will be out in force, taking the message to the public that axing of guards is part of a “co-ordinated strategy” driven by the Government.RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “RMT members are standing absolutely rock solid and united this morning in these four separate disputes as they make the case for safe, secure and accessible rail service for all.”The public and workplace support right across the country for our train guards is nothing short of fantastic as we mount picketing operations at all key locations.”Mr Cash said rail companies were frustrated at being used as “political pawns”, saying in a letter to the prime minister: “I am now becoming increasingly alarmed that you are sabotaging deals with the RMT.”Southern’s passenger services director Angie Doll said: “The RMT is striking about changes we made almost a year ago as part of our modernisation programme.”Nobody has lost their job over this, in fact we employ more on-board staff to help passengers than we did before, and we are providing a better service with fewer cancelled trains.”
Rail minister Paul Maynard said: “The RMT should stop using passengers as pawns in their political game, call off this strike action and return to talks.”This dispute is not about jobs as all the companies have guaranteed posts and I have been clear I want to see more people working on the railways, not fewer.”It’s not about safety either as the independent regulator has ruled that driver-controlled trains are safe.”London’s Tube strike is about a pay deal agreed between drivers and transport bosses in 2015. Aslef, which represents the majority of Tube drivers, says bosses have failed on a commitment to give its members the opportunity to work a four-day week and reduce the number of weekend shifts.What does a train guard do?
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But London Underground says a recent trial of new shift patterns has only just finished and the results are yet to be analysed.Transport for London says it will put more buses on key routes during the strike but urged people to walk if possible as services “will be exceptionally busy”.
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Greater Anglia is planning to run a full service , and Southern said it would attempt to run a normal service on most of its routes. Arriva Rail North plans to run about 1,200 services across the north, 46% of its normal timetable, on both days between 07:00 BST and 19:00 BST. Most Merseyrail services will run between 07:00 and 19:00, with a break during the middle of the day, and some stations will be closed. What questions do you have about the rail strikes? Use the form below to ask us and we could be in touch.
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