A DOUBLE strike by bus drivers and train workers is causing misery and disruption for passengers.

Walk-outs by Arriva staff coincide with rail strikes by the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union (RMT) which is affecting Merseyrail and Northern services today.

Traffic around St Helens is busier than usual as people who usually travel on public transport are forced to use their cars.

The dispute between RMT and Merseyrail relates to a new fleet of driver-only trains that will replace the current 40-year-old rolling stock in 2020 which RMT say will threaten the security of guards jobs on trains.

Strike action by drivers and engineers on Arriva buses comes after crisis talks over pay between the union Unite and Arriva North West broke down.

John Boughton, regional industrial organiser at Unite said: “The silence has been deafening from the company this week.

“We are prepared to sit down and talk to them but they have not come back to us.

“We have had four days this week where they could have sat down and opened dialogue to move things forward.

“They had an opportunity to increase the offer. That has not happened. That is disappointing.”

The two sides in both disputes appear to have reached stalemate.

Phil Stone, regional managing director for Arriva North West: "It is disappointing that, having met with the unions last week where we tabled two further improved pay offers they are unwilling to take these back to their membership for a vote.

“Instead customers have to endure yet more days of unnecessary strike action.

“We have always made it clear that we are available for further pay talks to reach a fair deal for our drivers and which supports the sustainability of the business.

“We urge the union to call off the strike action that will cause unnecessary disruption and inconvenience to customers and get back round the negotiating table.

“We would like to reassure customers that we will continue to do all we can to resolve the situation and wholeheartedly apologise for the inconvenience that this will cause.”

Arriva unions have called further strike days on November 13, 20 and 27.

The RMT union which represents guards and drivers has been calling strikes in a dispute over job losses and safety.

Rail operators are planning to remove staff from trains which would then become driver-only operated.

Unions claim the move could potentially make trains more dangerous.

Mike Cash, RMT general secretary, said: ”This fiasco cannot be allowed to drag on any longer.”

Richard Allan, Arriva Rail North’s deputy managing director said it had hoped to work with the union to resolve the issue.

He said: “We asked RMT to suspend their strike action to allow us to work together to shape the future on-board role, focusing on giving customers a better service.

“This was not accepted.”