Train staff in the RMT union will stage another 24-hour strike across three rail networks in the ongoing row over the future of conductors or guards.
Crew on Southern, Northern and Merseyrail services will go on strike on Tuesday 30 May, the day after the next UK bank holiday.
Industrial action started more than a year ago on Southern, where RMT members have walked out for 31 days in total. The decision to strike again comes in spite of Southern’s operating company, Govia Thameslink Railway, having already enacted its plans to change the role of conductors to onboard supervisors and make the driver entirely responsible for train operation, including closing doors.
In talks with the company, the RMT said it had learned that 8,216 trains a year would now run without a second crew member onboard, which the union said would compromise safety as well as access for people with disabilities.
Mick Cash, the RMT general secretary, said: “That represents a serious safety and accessibility risk and short of the guarantee of a second safety-qualified member of staff on Southern services we have no option but to confirm a further day of strike action.”
The RMT is in parallel disputes with companies that have similar plans. It said that Arriva Rail North, the operator of Northern, had “rejected point blank” attempts to settle the dispute. Northern is likely to introduce driver-controlled operation across many services when new trains are brought in, from 2018, although so far its plans have not been confirmed.
Richard Allan, Northern’s deputy managing director, said it was “frustrating” that more strikes had been called and added: “RMT’s dispute will not be solved by unnecessary strike action, but instead by working with us to deliver the modern trains, services and stations our customers want.”
Merseyrail has stated that it will run trains without guards from 2020, also upon the introduction of new trains. Cash said: “Merseyrail are completely ignoring the clear wishes of their own passengers, who overwhelmingly oppose the idea of driver-only operated trains on their network.”
The union said it remained available for talks with all three companies. The conductors’ strikes have had limited effect on services, with Southern operating 90% of trains during the last RMT strike.