THE Greater Manchester Mayor has called on the rail workers union to reconsider its strike action in the face of the ongoing disruption rail passengers are already facing.

Andy Burnham and the Mayor of Liverpool City Region, Steve Rotheram, have released a joint statement saying they believe there is a “strong case” to keep guards on trains but that rail passengers are already suffering because of “unacceptable levels of disruption”.

Passengers in the north have been left on platforms after a new timetable was implemented amid a slew of driver shortages and delayed electrification works.

The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT), which has called the strike, has responded to the statement acknowledging the “powerful levels of political support” their campaign to keep guards on trains for the safety of passengers.

The RMT general secretary Mick Cash, said: “RMT stands ready for genuine and meaningful talks around the guarantee of a second safety-critical member of staff on their trains with Arriva Rail North (ARN) any time, any place, anywhere. RMT has shown that we are deadly serious about negotiations in the other guards’ safety disputes and the same principle applies to ARN. With Andy Burnham’s and Steve Rotheram’s intervention it is now down to Northern to pick up the phone and get the process moving.”

Strikes are planned today between 7am and 7pm and on Saturday.

Mr Burnham and Mr Rotherham said: “On intercity rail services across Greater Manchester and Merseyside there are many rail stations that are unstaffed for all or part of the day and have poor levels of access for disabled people, older people and young families. That’s why we believe there is a strong case to keep a guard on our trains.

“It is true that rail services across the North of England are not all the same and inter-city services are different from intra-city, such as Merseyrail and Metrolink. However, other parts of the UK have reached practical solutions on these long-standing issues and we believe it should be perfectly possible for the North of England to do the same.

“Ultimately, we cannot accept a situation of trains with no guard stopping at remote unstaffed stations, with accessibility challenges. That will only serve to further reduce public confidence in our failing rail services.

“That’s why, at last week’s Transport for the North Board meeting, we proposed a review, involving both the rail industry and the union, to develop a solution that is right for the North, recognising the particular characteristics of our rail network.

“It is disappointing that agreement could not be found on the terms of the review.

“Passengers here are already suffering from unacceptable levels of disruption caused by the emergency timetable. Some people are already under real pressure at work due to the failures of the rail industry and three days of industrial action this week could make their situation much worse.

“With that in mind, we today call on the RMT to reconsider their industrial action planned for later this week and, in return, we will continue to press for the establishment of a fair process to find a resolution.”