THE cost of employing a second person on all Merseyrail trains will be discussed by the combined authority of the Liverpool City Region this week, and a report suggests it will add £7 million a year to the costs of the system.
Merseytravel and Merseyrail have agreed to carry a second member of staff on all trains when the new fleet arrives in 2021, after a prolonged dispute with the RMT. This led to a number of disruptive strikes before the union’s demand was finally conceded in August.
It had originally been proposed to run most trains as DOO, but have a second member of staff on board in peak periods and also on late night services. This proposal sparked the dispute with the RMT.
According to the report, Merseytravel will be required to find the extra cash, and fares may have to rise as a result.
A statement released at the end of August had warned that ‘in order to pay for a second member of staff on each train additional funding will now need to be generated. Productivity proposals have come forward from the Acas process that will cover some of the required funding. However additional means will also need to be considered by all parties, which could include an enhanced crackdown on fare evasion and increased fares.’
A final agreement with the RMT could take several months to complete, but the strikes have been suspended.
The meeting, scheduled for Friday this week, will authorise the authority to ’explore options’ for funding a second member of staff. The report concludes: ‘All parties are in agreement that any such solution will need to be conditional on affordability and as such Merseytravel are asked to work with Merseyrail to present options to the Combined Authority for financing the second person.’