Further strikes by Merseyrail workers could go ahead during the Grand National Festival.

There is still no agreement in the dispute over driver-only trains after talks between rail bosses and the RMT union on Monday (March 20).

Staff took part in 24 hours of industrial action on March 13.

The strike saw the Merseyrail timetable severely reduced and no Wirral Line trains out of Chester or Ellesmere Port.

The disruption was more significant than expected as many drivers refused to cross picket lines in solidarity with striking guards.

RMT members working for Northern and Southern rail were also involved in the synchronised action.

Rail companies want to bring new fleets of driver-only trains across their networks - which could lead to job losses for guards.

They say the positions would be replaced by on-board customer service roles.

The RMT has previously accused them ‘putting profits before passenger safety’.

As the issue remains unresolved, there could be further strikes over the Grand National weekend.

Merseyrail managing director Jan Chaudhry-van der Velde said earlier: “A strike to coincide with this high-profile, prestigious event would be detrimental to the reputation of the city region overall and I sincerely hope that the RMT does not consider industrial action over that period.”

The RMT earlier said it had agreed to today’s ‘exploratory talks’ that will be held ‘without preconditions’.

No Northern Rail talks

More than 80% of RMT union members voted in favour of the strike

Staff from Northern Rail also took part in industrial action last week, affecting a wide range of services in the north of England.

Since the strike there have been no further discussions between the two sides.

Mick Cash RMT General Secretary said: “Arriva Rail North have been telling the world through the media that they are up for a meeting with RMT over the current dispute and today we have tried to put the building blocks in place to make those talks happen.

“The ball is now in the company’s court but no one should underestimate RMT’s commitment to negotiating a safe and sustainable future for Northern Rail services that has passenger safety right at the core.”

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