Rail operator Greater Anglia is planning to run a full service if two 24-hour strikes called by the RMT union go ahead on Tuesday and Thursday next week.
The RMT strike affects conductors on Greater Anglia trains. There are only conductors on 40 per cent of Greater Anglia trains – the rest of the service has not had conductors for over 20 years.
Rail passengers should not notice a change to their service anywhere on the network, as Greater Anglia has made contingency arrangements to run all trains as normal, if conductors strike.
Richard Dean, Greater Anglia train service delivery director, said: “We are open for talks with the RMT in the hope we can avert the strike.
“However, we know our customers don’t want to see their services cancelled so we have spent several months training back office staff so they can fill in for conductors.
“The majority of our services are not affected by the proposed strike anyway, but we are now prepared for the 40 per cent of services that have conductors.
“Our back office staff have gone through a rigorous training process and have to pass competence, medical and safety tests before they can stand in for conductors. We will also have extra managers at stations to help customers with any enquiries.”
Greater Anglia is guaranteeing that conductors will keep their jobs for the length of the franchise through to October 2025 and will be recruiting more when the company gets new trains from 2019.
The new trains are equipped with the latest technology and will allow drivers to safely open and close doors on every train.
Conductors will then be able to concentrate on their customer service role. They will be able to help customers, without having to break off to return to the door control panel in order to open or close doors.
This should also improve the punctuality of the service, as there will not be a delay between trains arriving at stations and doors opening and closing.
Conductors will continue to receive safety training so they can deal with any emergencies.
Drivers already open and close doors on 60 per cent of Greater Anglia trains. Two independent rail safety organisations, the Railway and Safety Standards Board and the Office of Road and Rail have carried out reports which concluded that this method of operation is at least as safe as conductors opening and closing doors, providing correct procedures are followed.