Christmas rail travellers may be spared the misery of train strikes during the festive period after a successful conclusion to an overtime dispute.

Central Trains senior conductors had planned a walkout for three days over Christmas and the New Year in a row over overtime payments.

Now, according to the train operator, the rail transport workers' union Aslef has agreed to an offer of double time payments for work on holidays with a guaranteed minimum payment of £220 for its senior conductors. The company's managing director Steve Banaghan said Aslef had accepted the offer initially made by Central Trains to its members.

"We have made the same offer of double payments to all our front line staff and have reached agreement with the unions representing the majority of staff, including today with Aslef," he said last night.

"This means that we have reached agreement with the unions representing train drivers and station and ticket office staff."

However, the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) has still not accepted the deal for running services on December 24, 31 and January 1, so there was still a questionmark over some service provision.

Mr Banaghan added: "Passengers will find it hard to understand why the senior conductor negotiators for the RMT appear to be so determined to disrupt their holiday travel plans, when other unions - and even the majority of Central Trains members in the RMT, their own union - have been happy to accept the company's offer

of double time payments for all staff working on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve."

He added that Central Trains was still looking at options for providing services on the three RMT strike days and will publish details on its website as soon as possible.