Strike threat to Fenland services in safety row

general view of March railway station

Fenland rail passengers could face disruption amid plans for two 24 hour strikes next week.

RMT union members working for Greater Anglia are set to walk out next Tuesday and Thursday, October 3 and 5, in a continuing dispute over safety.

The company runs services through March and Manea on its route between Peterborough and Ipswich.

The union claims the company has not given proper assurances over the future of guards on its trains, amid moves to introduce new technology that will enable train drivers to close all doors which they claim will put passenger safety at risk.

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 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 voted by massive majorities for action but the company have ignored that and have failed 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.”

But the company has denied the union’s claims and says it is “disappointed” by the planned walkouts.

Richard Dean, Greater Anglia train service delivery director, said: “”We value our conductors highly and we have guaranteed their jobs until the end of the 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.”

The company also claims to have contingency plans in place to minimise the impact of the strike, which the union has derided as a “scab army”, accusing the company of not doing enough to resolve the dispute.

However, both sides insist they are prepared to resume negotiations.

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