STRIKING rail workers say they are "standing firm" as disruption to weekend train services continues.

The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) is refusing to crew services on West Midlands Railway on Saturdays leading up to the end of this year in protest at what they say are proposals to introduce Driver-Only Operation which would mean there would be no guards or conductors on services.

West Midlands Railway deny this, however, and Jan Chaudhry-van der Velde, managing director of West Midlands Trains, said: "This industrial action is entirely unnecessary. We have never proposed driver-only operation.

"We are committed to keeping a safety-critical conductor on every passenger train.

"The action is benefitting nobody and has caused major inconvenience to passengers and businesses.

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“More industrial action is scheduled but we remain determined to find a way of resolving this dispute without further disruption and inconvenience for our passengers."

An update from RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: "RMT members are once again standing solid, determined and united across the West Midlands Trains franchise as we fight to put the safety-critical role of the guard at the platform/train interface top of the agenda.

"The safety and accessibility of the travelling public is this trade unions priority and should take priority over the profits of the train operator and we believe that this is an important election issue for the people of the West Midlands.

“We will not allow the drive for profit to override the core issue of safe and accessible services for all on West Midlands Trains and we stand firm on that very basic principle.

"We will never compromise on the issues of passenger safety and accessibility. The union remains available for talks.”