Chaos on region's railways as staff strike again over train guards row

Train services face further disruption.
Train services face further disruption.
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Rail services will be disrupted again today because of a fresh strike over the bitter dispute concerning train guards following the collapse of talks aimed at breaking the deadlocked row.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) on Arriva Rail North (Northern) will walk out for the third consecutive Saturday, with further stoppages planned in the coming weeks.

Northern said it will operate a reduced timetable, with very few trains running before 9am and after 6pm.

A statement said: "We expect to run around 30 per cent of services and all customers are advised to plan carefully if they intend to travel on the rail network.

"Unfortunately, on some routes, we aren't able to run services, while others have a limited service. On those routes where we are able to operate trains, we expect all services to be extremely busy. We also have replacement bus services available on some routes where trains aren't running."

Ongoing engineering work around Manchester will also see some disruption to services, particularly between Manchester and Liverpool, while on Sunday there will be planned cancellations on a small number of routes.

The RMT has also announced more 24-hour strikes on every Saturday up to and including October 20.

Talks at the conciliation service Acas ended without agreement earlier this week.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: "The Northern Rail action goes ahead as planned in the guards' safety dispute as Arriva Rail North continue to refuse to match the best practice in the industry on the guard guarantee and seem hell-bent on continued conflict.

"In spite of the collapse of this week's talks, RMT will not be deterred in its efforts and will continue to campaign both industrially and politically to ensure passengers using Arriva Rail North train services are afforded the respect they deserve and are provided with a continued and guaranteed safe, secure and accessible railway."

The union has also called a 48-hour strike on South Western Railway from October 5 in the same dispute.

Richard Allan, deputy managing director at Northern, said: "Northern invited RMT to Acas talks and agreed to discuss the three options RMT had suggested beforehand on the role of the on-board member of staff. Northern was prepared to talk about the RMT's options.

"However, RMT unilaterally changed the basis of what they were prepared to talk about. This is despite the fact that they have reached agreements on similar terms elsewhere in the industry.

"RMT then called yet more strike action which will only cause further unnecessary difficulty for customers. Northern remains ready to talk about the options and calls on RMT to cancel strike action and return to the talks.

"Northern is getting on with the important job of modernising local rail for customers with new trains, better stations and more services. It remains willing to involve RMT in that positive future for colleagues and customers. But progress can only be achieved through talking."