A landmark deal has been struck between Merseyrail, Liverpool City Region Combined Authority and RMT Union to have a second member of staff on board its new Stadler trains.
In a joint statement, all parties said the agreement in principal is subject to the approval of an “appropriate, affordable and sustainable funding package”.
This could involve productivity proposals as well as other means, such as an enhanced crackdown on fare evasion or increased fares in order to pay for another member of staff for each train.
Should it go ahead, the result will mean that no one currently employed as a guard will lose their employment as a result of the introduction of the new fleet in 2021.
Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram said: “I have always believed that the only way this dispute would be resolved was by all sides sitting down and talking. That’s why I pushed for Merseyrail and the RMT to enter [Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service] talks last year and I’m pleased that this approach has got us to where we are today.
“Today’s announcement is huge progress but I also want to be clear that it requires a significant financial commitment and hard choices on all sides. This has to be kept in mind alongside the reality of the substantial reductions in funding that Merseytravel will receive from government over the next ten years.
“I believe this agreement gives us the best chance to successfully deliver and operate the new fleet of trains and therefore is in the best interests of the people of the Liverpool City Region.”
RMT general secretary Mick Cash added: “Today’s agreement in principle is an important and significant development in respect of RMT’s long running campaign to retain a guaranteed second, safety-critical member of staff on Merseyrail trains.
“We now await a fully-formed and detailed set of proposals that the we can take back to our Executive and our members.”
All parties will now undertake the detailed work required to develop a full proposed agreement, which will take “some months”. Whilst this takes place, and until dialogue has been completed, there will be no further industrial action.