The RMT union has called on transport secretary Chris Grayling to meet for a summit on driver only trains, as its members went on strike on Monday across five franchises.
The industrial action is the first of three days of strikes this week.
RMT members in guard or similar roles on Southern, Northern, Merseyrail, Greater Anglia, South Western Railway (and Island Line) walked out, causing disruption to services.
Govia Thameslink Railway, which runs Southern services, said it had been told that ‘conductors in the RMT Union’ would undertake industrial action on Monday, despite having reclassified the role as ‘on board supervisor’ a year ago.
It said services on most Southern routes will operate normally and that the full Gatwick Express and Thameslink service was expected to operate on all routes.
Merseyrail said it would run a reduced service on strike days
RMT members on the other four franchises will undertake 24-hour strikes on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Northern Rail said it would operate a reduced service, with the majority of services running between 7am and 7pm.
Merseyrail also said it would run a reduced service, with no trains running on the Kirkby, Ellesmere Port or Hunts Cross lines on strike days. Most services will run between the hours of 07:00 and 19:00. However, there will be a break in service during the middle of the day.
South Western Railway (SWR) said around a third of trains could be affected but it planned to run more than 70% of its normal Monday to Friday timetable.
Greater Anglia said it planned to run a full, normal service with no service alterations.
The RMT said it had conducted unsuccessful talks last week with Northern Rail and SWR and that Merseyrail, Greater Anglia and Southern had ‘refused to engage’ in further talks.
General secretary Mick Cash said he had written to Mr Grayling on Monday, proposing a summit that could be presided over by an agreed independent chair.
The summit ‘would consider how the principles of the agreements RMT have recently reached in Scotland and Wales, which will keep the guard on new modern trains, can be applied to the current disputes whilst at the same time meeting any concerns the Department for Transport and train companies have about future train services’.
A Department for Transport spokesman said: 'This is a dispute between a private company and the RMT.
'However, the transport secretary recognises the disruption caused to passengers and has met with union leaders on several occasions, including as recently as December, to help bring an end to the strikes.'
Commenting on this week’s strikes, Paul Plummer, chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train companies, said: ‘No one wins when strike action disrupts the lives of people trying to get to work, get their children to school or to run their local business.
‘Working together we will minimise the impact of the RMT strikes and find a way through this dispute so that we can play our part to support Britain’s economy.’