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Strike set to hit Greater Anglia following union ballot

PUBLISHED: 12:55 12 September 2017 | UPDATED: 14:33 12 September 2017

Abellio Greater Anglia services call at London Liverpool Street, Stratford and Romford (Picture: PA Images)

Abellio Greater Anglia services call at London Liverpool Street, Stratford and Romford (Picture: PA Images)

PA/Press Association Images

Railway staff are set to go on strike over the potential expansion of driver only operated trains on the Greater Anglia network.

Drivers and guards working on the service, which calls at London Liverpool Street, Stratford and Romford and extends to parts of Essex and Norfolk, were balloted by the RMT union.

More than 200 guards, on a 90 per cent turnout, voted by a majority of nine to one for strike action. The drivers voted for action by two to one with a 75pc turnout.

The union said that Abellio, which runs the route, failed to provide representatives with the assurances they had been seeking with respect to the role and responsibilities of the guards.

The result will now be considered by RMT’s executive who will decide on the next steps in the dispute.

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 and that left us with no alternative but to move to a ballot in the interests of rail safety.

“Our members have now voted by massive majorities for action and it’s now down to the company to wake up and take note and to seize the opportunity to give us the very simple assurances on the future of the guards, and the guarantee of a second safety critical member of staff on current services.

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

The RMT has previously staged a series of strikes on Southern Railway, Merseyrail and Arriva Rail North, while workers on the new South Western Railway franchise - which has replaced South West Trains - are to be balloted for strikes over the same issue.

Richard Dean, train service delivery director at Greater Anglia, said: “We are obviously disappointed with the ballot result.

“We’re keen to talk to the RMT to try and resolve the issues involved and to avert industrial action.

“We value our conductors highly and we have guaranteed their jobs until the end of our franchise in October 2025.

“In fact, we will be recruiting additional conductors, as we are replacing all of our trains with brand new trains from 2019, which will enable us to run more services.”

Greater Anglia has guards on around 40pc of its services, including the Norwich to London service, with the remainder - mainly commuter trains from the capital to Essex and Cambridge - operating with a driver who opens and closes the doors.

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