UNION bosses are meeting Merseyrail chiefs today in a bid to end an ongoing dispute on plans for new driver-only trains.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union walked out for 24 hours last Monday in protest at plans for driver-controlled only operation on new trains.

Merseyrail went to the High Court in London to try to avert the action but failed.

During today's meeting the RMT and Merseyrail will discuss roles, responsibilities and safety training of the new team of on-board staff and securing the right outcome for guards.

Like most new trains ordered for intensive urban railways, they will operate without a traditional guard, but there will still be staff on-board, focusing on customer rather than operational duties.

Merseyrail believe that they have already made clear that all the current permanent guards will be guaranteed an alternative job within the business, with salary levels protected and that no guard will be forced to leave Merseyrail’s employment.

Ahead of today's meeting Jan Chaudhry-van der Velde, Merseyrail managing director said: "We are very pleased that the RMT has accepted our proposal for talks.

"I am hopeful that they will take these discussions seriously and get behind the decision made by local politicians last December to order these fantastic new trains, which will be much safer than the ones they replace.

"Assuming we can make progress, I am optimistic that the RMT can suspend their industrial action temporarily while we undertake these negotiations.

"The threat of continued strikes will be damaging to our customers and the local economy.

"With the Grand National Festival imminent, the eyes of the world will be on Liverpool.

"A strike to coincide with this high profile, prestigious event would be detrimental to the reputation of the city region overall, and I sincerely hope the RMT does not consider industrial action over that period".