Strikes are disrupting rail services and the journeys of millions of commuters across the country for a second time this week.
Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union at Southern, Merseyrail, Arriva Rail North and Greater Anglia have walked out for 24 hours, with no sign of the deadlock being broken, in a dispute over driver-only trains and the role of guards.
Arriva Rail North, which covers cities and towns including Blackpool, Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield and Lincoln, aims to run around 46% of its normal timetable, between 7am and 7pm.
Merseyrail said some stations would be closed but most of its services will run between 7am and 7pm, with a break during the middle of the day.
Greater Anglia said it is planning to run a full service on Thursday, despite the strike, and Southern said there would be a normal service on most of its routes.
The action, which follows a 24-hour walk-out by RMT members on Tuesday, relates to long-planned changes which would see drivers given responsibility over opening and closing the doors of train carriages, with some services staffed only by a driver as guard roles are changed to ‘onboard supervisors’.
Image: The action relates to a dispute over driver-only trains
But workers believe the safety of passengers would be compromised and the RMT has warned that removing guards from trains travelling through hundreds of unstaffed stations will result in a “cocktail of dangers”.
General secretary Mick Cash said: “No staff on many routes and lines, no staff on the stations and no staff on the trains travelling through these stations means there will be a cocktail of dangers at the locations we have identified which will increasingly become no-go areas for vulnerable passengers and new crime hot spots.
“At the same time our isolated drivers will be on their own, increasingly exposed to anti-social and violent behaviour.”
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.”
A walkout by Tube drivers also due to take place at the same time was called off following a breakthrough in talks between London Underground and the ASLEF union.