Talks have been held in a bid to avert some of the strikes planned on the railways next week.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport union met senior managers from South Western Railway and Arriva Rail North to try to find a solution to the long-running dispute over the role of guards.

A series of strikes is due to be held next week at both companies as well as on Southern, Merseyrail and Greater Anglia.

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RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “RMT has held talks with South Western Railway today.

“We have set out the union’s position during those talks and we now await a formal response from the company.”

A South Western Railway spokesman said: “We were pleased that the RMT agreed to meet with us today to try and resolve the dispute.

“It was an amicable meeting and they suggested some amendments to a framework agreement we had previously suggested to them in the hope of finding a way forward.

“We are considering our position and will respond to them in due course.”