‘A new low’: Grand National fans to endure rail strike misery

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  • The RMT union has sunk to a “new low” by scheduling strike action in Liverpool on Grand National day, according to the rail operator.

    Merseyrail train drivers and guards, who are members of the union, will be striking for 24 hours on 8 April in an ongoing dispute over plans to remove guards from trains. The action had previously been planned for 4 April. Southern Rail and Arriva Trains North union members will also be striking on the same day.

    An Aintree spokesman told H&H it is “unfortunate an agreement couldn’t be met at this stage”.

    “We hope this changes for our customers and staff and will continue to work with our transport partners to work out the best possible solution to ensure it has as little effect on our racegoers as possible,” he added.

    The meeting attracted a sell-out 70,000 racegoers on Grand National day last year.

    “The RMT has sunk to a new low by inflicting their strikes on the Grand National,” said Merseyrail managing director Jan Chaudhry-van der Velde.

    “Damaging the company and its passengers is one thing, but damaging the whole of the Liverpool city region on one of its proudest and most important days of the year is impossible to understand.

    “It cannot be right that the RMT executive, sitting in London, has taken an unnecessary decision that represents a barefaced attack on the reputation of our region.”

    She added the company is making “every attempt” to ensure it successfully moves the high volumes of people who choose to travel on its services.

    “Timetables for the day are currently being developed and will be published very soon.

    “We have put forward firm proposals about how we will look after our guards, who, subject to successful negotiations with the RMT, are being guaranteed work in the business, once the new trains are introduced in three years’ time.”

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    However, RMT general secretary Mick Cash said it is “disgraceful Merseyrail wrecked a golden opportunity” to engage in serious talks with the union on Monday (20 March).

    He added Merseyrail’s “cynical and hostile stance” left the union with “no option” but additional strike action.

    “RMT recognises the severe impact that the action will have on Grand National day,” said Mr Cash.

    “But we are dealing with an employer that refuses to listen or engage with the union on the critical issue of safe rail operation.

    We ask the public to understand that we have no option but to take this high-profile action to force the company back to the negotiating table.”

    He added there is “ample time” ahead of 8 April for further talks and a “safe and sustainable deal” to be put in place.

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