Commuters face three days of disruption as staff at five train firms including Merseyrail and Northern go on strike today (Monday), Wednesday and Friday.
Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union members at companies also including South Western Railway and Greater Anglia are involved in separate ongoing disputes over ‘rail safety’.
RMT members at Southern are also staging a 24-hour walkout on Monday.
The disputes concern issues including the role of train guards and the extension of driver-only services.
Merseyrail said it will run a reduced service on its lines in and around Merseyside, mostly between 7am and 7pm, but with a break during the middle of the day.
Northern, which runs trains in north west and north east England, said it will run around 1,350 trains on strike days – about 60% of its normal service.
A Merseyrail spokesman said: “Passengers travelling to, from and within the Liverpool City Region are being urged to plan their journeys and check before they travel ahead of planned industrial action by members of the RMT union on Merseyrail and Northern rail services on Monday 8th, Wednesday 10th and Friday 12th January 2018.
“Merseyrail services are planned to run every 30 minutes, with the exception of the New Brighton to Liverpool services which will be every hour, from around 6.30 to 19.30, with a break in service between approximately 11.00 and 13.30. Wirral services will start and terminate from James Street Station.
“There will be no services on the following lines: Hunts Cross – Liverpool Central; Ellesmere Port – Hooton; Chester – Hooton, Kirkby – Liverpool Central and Ormskirk – Maghull.”
Merseyrail tickets will be accepted on Arriva bus services, except between 7-9am and 4-6pm.
Andy Heath, managing director at Merseyrail, said: “I am really disappointed with the strike action being taken by the RMT that will, after the previous strike days, yet again result in more disruption to your services.
“The timing of these latest strikes, three within a week, has been deliberately scheduled so as to cause as much impact as possible to you as a passenger.
“At the request of the Metro Mayor, we agreed to independent conciliation with the RMT union with no pre-conditions, but to date, the RMT have refused to meet without pre-conditions.
“I am very keen to begin a meaningful dialogue and engage in a detailed negotiation to find a middle ground which will satisfy all parties. As always, we will ensure that we deliver as robust a timetable as we can that will best serve your travel needs.”
But the RMT says it does wish to talk.
General secretary Mick Cash today issued a statement that referenced speculation Tory Transport Secretary Chris Grayling will be moved as part of a cabinet reshuffle.
He said: “The change of Transport Secretary opens up an opportunity for a new approach to the disputes that RMT members are engaged in across the country today over rail safety and the guarantee of a guard on our trains.
"Whoever fills this post needs to respond urgently to RMT’s request for a summit meeting involving the Department for Transport and the train companies aimed at brokering a long-term solution to the current disputes.
“RMT is ready to brief the new Transport Secretary on the deals that we have struck in Scotland and Wales that secure the guarantee of a guard and which underpin the principles of passenger safety, security and access on our trains. With the action on this week this is the most pressing issue facing Chris Grayling’s replacement and there should be no delay in getting talks moving.”