THE Dispute over the role of train guards that has crippled services in the south of England could spread after a strike ballot was announced among staff on Northern Rail.
The RMT union said it was in dispute with franchise operator Arriva Rail North, where its members will vote on whether to launch action.
The government has proposed the use of driver-only trains as part of the new Northern franchise. But the union said the company had “failed to provide assurances” about the future of the role of guards.
The RMT is also balloting its members on Merseyrail on the same issue.
General secretary Mick Cash said: “We asked Arriva North whether they were prepared to guarantee a second person on all passenger services operated by the company and whether that second person would retain full operational responsibility. The response from the company was, we are not in a position to offer either of these guarantees at this present time.”
Northern said: “We are in the early stages of developing our modernisation plans. We believe the RMT is extremely premature in calling a ballot for strikes. We want to continue talking with the RMT.”
Last month, the company faced ridicule after one of its drivers pulled out of a station leaving the conductor behind on the platform.