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Rail guards set to ballot on strike action on some Greater Anglia services

PUBLISHED: 10:57 17 July 2017 | UPDATED: 18:45 17 July 2017

The doors of the new trains coming to Greater Anglia will be controlled from the driver's cab. Picture: GREATER ANGLIA.

The doors of the new trains coming to Greater Anglia will be controlled from the driver's cab. Picture: GREATER ANGLIA.

Archant

Rail guards are to be balloted on possible strike action over the question of who opens the doors on Greater Anglia’s InterCity and rural services.

The dispute mirrors the dispute on the Southern Rail network over the last year – and the catalyst is the introduction of new Stadler trains on the Greater Anglia network which are due to start coming into service in 2019.

At present it is the job of the conductor/guard on the trains to ensure the doors are shut and locked before it leaves a station. New trains have the door controls in the driver’s cab and it is the job of the driver to make sure it is ready to leave.

The dispute does not affect suburban services from Essex into London – they are already driver-only operation.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union has warned that if it cannot reach an agreement with Greater Anglia over the future role of its conductor/guard members it will ballot them for industrial action.

Union 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.”

The company insists its conductor/guards have a future on the new trains.

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.”

Disputes over the operation of new trains are flaring up across the rail network as a new generation of trains with doors controlled from the driver’s cab are being introduced to services across the country.

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