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OUR columnist Peter Grant obviously rattled a few carriages at Merseyrail with his article saying he personally hopes the organisation has second thoughts about getting rid of guards on trains.

He wrote: "Being a life-long commuter (looking forward to my travel pass next year) I will continue to praise and criticise in equal measure.

"When the super-duper new trains arrive I personally hope they still have guards.

"I understand the strike action – others don't - but if it's a safety issue count me in."

The county's transport bosses Jan Chaudhry-van der Velde, managing director of Merseyrail, and Frank Rogers, chief executive of Merseytravel, have written the following piece as a right of reply to Peter's comments.

Maybe Pete will have something to say about it in next week's Inferno!

MERSEYSIDE is steeped in railway heritage. It was in our region – in 1829 – that Stephenson’s Rocket won the competition to become the first train to run the Liverpool to Manchester line, marking the birth of the modern railway.

People still talk today of the Liverpool Overhead Railway, the ‘Dockers’ Umbrella’, which made history as the world’s first electric elevated railway, complete with what was then state-of-the-art automatic signalling.

Thanks to the decision made by local political leaders, in two and a half years, we will make history again with the roll-out of new state-of-the-art trains on the Merseyrail network.

The people of the Liverpool city region deserve the best and that is why we are replacing our current trains, which are among the oldest in operation in the country, with the best on the market.

Our new trains will make every journey quicker, safer and more comfortable, improving connectivity within and beyond the city region, with the potential of running to places like Wrexham, Warrington and Skelmersdale.

Each train will be able to carry 60 per cent more customers and will boast the latest technology, including a sliding step to help all passengers board safely on the level, without assistance, and features such as wi-fi. 

And with many Merseyrail stations located in the Wirral, 23 out of the 66, local residents of this borough have a lot to gain from the investment in the network.

This new fleet is part of a £460m investment being made in the Merseyrail transport infrastructure as part of the new trains project, which includes upgrading platforms and the electricity supply across our network.

Such unprecedented levels of investment will help to drive the growth of our city region and bring significant benefits for local businesses and our economy. It is vital that we keep building on the recent success of our region and make this major, game-changing investment. 

We know our region is different and special, and that is reflected in how we run our railway. These new trains have been designed specifically for our region.

Rather than being bought off the peg, and they will be owned by the public, not the train operator nor a leasing company – something unique to our city region. Our network will also continue to be one of the most generously staffed in the UK, and you will never be far from a member of our team.

The new trains, like most new trains for intensive urban railways and metros, are designed to operate without a traditional guard. The RMT objects to this, as part of a national policy stance.

Merseyrail and Merseytravel pride ourselves on working with our staff and listening to customers and local taxpayers to provide a service that works for them.

That is why we are doing everything we can to end the current dispute with the RMT union, who will hold their fifth strike on July 23, when the Open golf championship at Royal Birkdale is taking place.

This is a deliberate attempt to threaten the smooth-running of one of the city region’s most prestigious international events, following the success of the same event at Hoylake in 2014. Watched by 600 million people across the globe, The Open is worth around £100m to the Liverpool city region economy.

In our last round of talks with the union, we tabled a number of ideas to address their opposition to the state-of-the art new trains, including proposals to deploy a member of staff on trains after 8pm, as well as an offer on changes to rotas, which we know many employees would welcome.

We have already offered a guarantee of continued employment for all of our 200 guards. It is enormously frustrating that they rejected this offer out of hand.

Despite the union’s intransigence, Merseyrail will continue to do everything it can to find a middle ground to end this dispute. This is the right thing to do for our region, local people and our railway.

There has never been a more exciting time for Merseyrail. We are looking forward to bringing our railway into the 21st century and giving local people another reason to be proud of our fantastic region.  

Frank Rogers, chief executive, Merseytravel.

Jan Chaudhry-van der Velde, managing director, Merseyrail.