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Union appeals to transport secretary for ‘new approach’

The RMT has written to transport secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan, urging her to take a ‘new approach’ to the rail disputes which have already triggered a number of disruptive strikes in recent months, with more walkouts due soon.

The RMT is set to stage more strikes on National Rail on 15 and 17 September, and there will be simultanous action by ASLEF on the 15th. Separate disputes with Hull Trains and London Overground operator Arriva Rail London will also cause walkouts at these operators on the 15th. In addition, management and clerical union TSSA is set to strike for 24 hours from midday on the 26th.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan has replaced transport secretary Grant Shapps as part of Liz Truss’ cabinet reshuffle, which has seen new appointments to most cabinet positions and many others in government.

The RMT, which is opposing reported plans to close most National Rail ticket offices, says the new transport secretary had opposed proposals to reduce the opening hours of the travel centre at Berwick-upon-Tweed station in her constituency.

In his letter to the transport secretary, RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: ‘We are encouraged that you are on the record as wanting to save rail ticket offices, staffing and services in your own constituency and I would urge you to continue this approach as secretary of state.

‘There is clearly now the opportunity for a new approach from the government to facilitate discussions between the RMT and the employers where the train companies and Network Rail are given more flexibility to secure a deal that is in the interests of workers, passengers and the country as a whole.’

Meanwhile Torbay MP Kevin Foster has been appointed to replace rail minister Wendy Morton, who has become chief whip. Mr Shapps has returned to the back benches.

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