LONDON Workers on one of Britain's major rail links to northern England and Scotland will strike for 48 hours later this month, the transport union RMT said on Thursday, in a growing dispute over staff roles on trains.
The action on Virgin Trains East Coast (VTEC) echoes a long-running dispute on Southern rail, a major commuter route into London, over a dispute about whose job it should be to open and close train doors, which has spread to Liverpool and other cities in northern England.
Staff on VTEC, a joint venture 90 percent owned by Stagecoach, are set to strike on April 28 and 29.
The RMT said VTEC had not offered sufficient reassurances that train guards would keep their roles and had failed to allay its concerns over a possible switch to driver-only trains, following changes to staffing introduced last month.
"It is simply appalling that Virgin East Coast have refused to give the most basic assurances on the safety-critical role of the guard on their trains continuing into the future," said RMT General Secretary Mick Cash.
The East Coast line is the main rail link between London and Edinburgh and serves over 20 million customers a year.
Virgin Trains said the staffing changes, which started last month, would benefit passengers and had no impact on safety. It planned to run a near-normal timetable during the strike.
(Reporting by Alistair Smout; editing by Stephen Addison)