I recently contacted Steve Rotherham the Liverpool City Region Mayor about this dispute and here is his response:-
Thank you for taking the time to e-mail me about the issue of Train Safety.
Can I say that this is a dispute between Merseyrail and the RMT Union.
I am happy to use whatever influence I have to try and settle the matter but I am unable to instruct either party to come to an agreement. The contract for new rolling stock was signed prior to my election and I respect that decision.
The contract for over £460m of investment in new rolling stock, means our trains will be the most technologically advanced trains in the country. The business case was predicated on the driver having responsibility for opening and closing doors.
I too hope that a settlement can be reached asap as we need stability in our transport systems throughout the Liverpool City Region and we would not wish to imperil any investment in the future.
I have stated publically and in private to the RMT Union leaders that my door is open should they wish to meet to progress the issue and work to find an agreeable solution to the current impasse.
Whilst Steve Rotherham is right in saying that the dispute is between Merseyrail and the RMT Trade Union my clear understanding is that the dispute was in reality created by Merseytravel, the public sector Transport Committee of the Liverpool City Region. By this I mean that it was Merseytravel who ordered the new fleet of Stadler trains which are intended to be run without train guards.
Merseyrail, the private sector train operating company, could be said to be in a dispute that is not of their own making. They may well be fronting up like they are up fight with the RMT Union but did they have any choice in reality other than to do battle with the RMT? My view is no they did not have any choice because the politicians who sit on the Merseytravel Committee dropped them right in it when they decided to axe train guards on the new fleet of trains.
This still looks to me like a dispute created by politicians but left to the private sector rail operator to fight.