Greater Anglia train services running as normal despite RMT Union strike action

The strike outside Ipswich station. Picture: PAUL GEATER

The strike outside Ipswich station. Picture: PAUL GEATER - Credit: Archant

Greater Anglia is running a normal service on Tuesday despite the first one-day strike by guards who are members of the RMT union.

The RMT has strike action planned for today and Thursday, which surrounds a dispute over the role of guards and whether they should operate the doors on new trains due to be introduced in two years’ time.

A group of staff conducting strike action set up a picket opposite Ipswich railway station this morning, with placards highlighting the issue – while others handed out leaflets to travellers.

However commuters said they had seen no difference in the service today – with some saying it was better than they often found!

Max Henry, who commutes from home in Mistley to Ipswich, said: “It all ran exactly as normal. The strike was in the back of my mind before I started – but everything has been fine. Just a normal trip to work.”

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In preparation for the strike Greater Anglia trained back office staff and managers to take over from conductors and a guards who are not working.

One commuter said, as he rushed passed: “It was not a normal service. The train was on time!”

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There were two minor delays – once service ran late because of a roster mix-up which meant a member of staff arrived late. While another train was delayed because of a slow-running freight train ahead of it. But the company said these issues were not strike-related.

Striking guards at the picket line outside the station had been told by their union not to talk to the press – but an RMT official was due to join them later in the morning to support their action.

The strike affects Intercity and rural trains, but not suburban trains to London which make up 60% of Greater Anglia’s services.

Most train drivers are members of the ASLEF union which is not in dispute with Greater Anglia.

Steve Smart from the RMT questioned Greater Anglia claims that all trains had run: “That’s not what we’ve heard. We understand that several services were cancelled because there were no guards.”

Greater Anglia said the only train cancellations were because of a fault with a train unit.

Mr Smart said: “Our members have been heartened by the response from the public. Travellers want to ensure there is a safety-trained guard on every train.”

He said Greater Anglia’s majority shareholder Abellio had already agreed to guarantee guards a safety role on their services in Scotland.

Greater Anglia’s Richard Deans said: “Everything is working well. There is a problem with a signalling approaching Liverpool Street, but that is nothing to do with this dispute.

“We are willing to talk to the RMT at any time to try to find a way out of this dispute.”

Alongside strikes on Greater Anglia services, the RMT has co-ordinated walkouts for Southern Trains, Northern rail and Merseyrail franchises which have caused more disruption than the East Anglian dispute.

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