Guards and drivers could strike over changes to how trains are dispatched on Greater Anglia Trains.

Rail union RMT has confirmed it is going to ballot guards and drivers affected by the potential introduction of the driver-only operation of doors.

Drivers and guards will have the option of calling for strike action and action short of a strike after the company failed to give a guarantee on the role of the guard throughout the length of the franchise.

A meeting was held between Greater Anglia staff representatives, RMT’s Regional Organiser and National Executive Committee members to discuss the issue.

But management failed to provide union reps with the assurances they had been seeking with respect to the role and responsibilities of the guards now, and for the length of the franchise.

Mick Cash, RMT's general secretary, said: “Greater Anglia have been given every opportunity to give a guarantee on the future role of the guard on their services. They have failed to do so.

“RMT will not sit back and wait for the company any longer and we have no option but to begin preparations for a ballot in order to protect safety and access on Greater Anglia services.

“The union remains available for further talks around the crucial issue of the guard guarantee.”

RMT’s NEC noted the views of the meeting and said the union remains open to proposals of drivers opening doors, but this should be solely within scenarios where guards and conductors still undertake, and have full operational responsibility for, closing the doors and dispatching the train with the facility to manually perform this procedure from each cab and saloon.

RMT’s NEC has made it clear it expects where guards are currently working trains, for this to continue, with them retaining full safety-critical responsibilities, along with closing doors, dispatch and platform/train safety.

But it says no commitment or assurances have been forthcoming from Greater Anglia.

However, Richard Dean, Greater Anglia's train service delivery director, said: “We have conductors on our Intercity service between Norwich and London Liverpool Street and on our rural routes across East Anglia.

"They are highly valued colleagues and we have no plans to remove them from our trains.

"In fact, we have a new conductors training course starting in August.

"We hold regular meetings with the unions which represent our colleagues.

"These meetings will continue as we remain available for talks to resolve this issue.”

The NEC will ballot all conductors, senior conductors and affected train driver members at Greater Anglia for strike action and industrial action short of a strike.