TRAIN strikes are contributing to heavier than normal traffic on the roads as rail workers are said to be 'standing firm' during the latest wave of strikes.

And they have accused the Goverment of being more interested in protecting the profits of train operators than rail services and passenger safety.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) are walking out today and on Friday on Arriva Rail North (Northern), which runs services on the Airedale, Wharfedale and Calderdale routes.

The latest strikes were called in reponse to a dispute between the RMT union and train operators about the role of guards, safety fears and concerns about job losses due to plans to introduce new driver-only operated trains.

The Department for Transport denied that anybody would be losing their jobs.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: "Our members are standing firm this morning in the separate disputes across the country in defence of rail safety and the role of the guard.

"This week, in the midst of the Tory reshuffle shambles, we called on Transport Secretary Chris Grayling to organise summit talks to move these disputes forwards. We have have had no response.

"Mr Grayling's silence speaks volumes and, with today's damning NAO report into the Southern Rail fiasco, it is becoming clearer by the minute that all the Tory Government are interested in is protecting the fat profits of the greedy private rail companies regardless of the impact on services and safety.

"The strikes today are about putting public safety before private profit.

"If RMT can cut deals in Wales and Scotland that guarantee a guard on the trains and which underpin public safety, security and access on our railways, there is no reason we can't reach the same agreements in England."

A Department for Transport spokesman said earlier this week: "This is a dispute between a private company and the RMT.

"However, the Transport Secretary recognises the disruption caused to passengers and has met with union leaders on several occasions, including as recently as December, to help bring an end to the strikes.

"He offered guarantees of employment to members who currently fulfil the role of the second person on the train beyond the length of the franchises.

"Nobody is losing their job as a result of driver-controlled operation trains - employees have been guaranteed jobs and salaries for several years."

Northern said it will run more than half of its usual services but the strike action is having an impact on trains in the district.

It is believed the industrial action is contributing to heavier than normal traffic as commuters use alternative transport.

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