A fresh wave of rail strikes will hit services across the country on Thursday, with disputes over the role of guards and driver-only trains becoming increasingly bitter.
Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union at Southern, Merseyrail, Arriva Rail North and Greater Anglia will stage a second 24-hour walkout of the week, with no sign of the deadlock being broken.
Workers on the new South Western Railway franchise are set to join the strikes after voting heavily in favour of industrial action over a similar row.
The RMT has accused Southern of “bullying” tactics, claiming the company has threatened to target the pensions of those taking strike action as well as taking “further sanctions”.
General secretary Mick Cash said: “Southern Rail, a company that earlier this year encouraged passengers to 'strike back' against front line staff, has once again dredged the depths of industrial relations with this outrageous threat to their staff pensions that is pure bare-faced bullying.
“If Southern seriously think that RMT will lift the campaign for safe and accessible rail services for all on the basis of threats and intimidation then they should think again.
“Instead of resorting to the gutter tactics of the playground bully Southern should start acting responsibly and should get round the table with the trade union for serious talks aimed at resolving the longest running industrial dispute in Britain.”
A Southern spokesperson said: “We reject the latest claims made by the RMT. Today will be the 36th day of RMT strikes and we, like our passengers and the vast majority of our colleagues, simply want an end to this unnecessary dispute.”
Greater Anglia is planning to run a full service on Thursday and Southern said there will be a normal service on most of its routes.
Arriva Rail North aims to run around 1,200 services across the North - 46 per cent of its normal timetable - on both days between 7am and 7pm.
Most Merseyrail services will run between 7am and 7pm, with a break during the middle of the day, and some stations will be closed.
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