Bank holiday weekend train strike misery for Northern rail users

Northern rail users face more strike action later this month.
Northern rail users face more strike action later this month.

Rail users face bank holiday weekend misery after union bosses announced a fresh one-day strike.

Workers at Arriva Rail North, which runs the Northern service between Newcastle, Sunderland, Hartlepool and Sunderland, are to stage new industrial action in a row about driver-only trains.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union will walk out on Friday, April 28, after talks failed to break the deadlocked dispute.

The date is at the start of the May bank holiday weekend and will affect travellers seeking to take advantage of the extra day's break.

But Northern insists it has "robust contingency plans in place" to keep customers on the move.

RMT members went on strike last Saturday as part of a union campaign against new driver-controlled trains being introduced from 2020.

General secretary Mick Cash said: "The public, who support RMT's campaign for a guarantee of a guard on their trains, will be appalled that Arriva Rail North have failed to offer any kind of progress whatsoever in the talks and have instead opted to try and bulldoze through their plans regardless.

"It is that flagrant disregard for the safety issues at the heart of the dispute which leaves us with no option but to put on this further day of strike action.

"RMT commends our Arriva Rail North members on their rock-solid display of strength, resolve and unity during the action so far in opposition to the introduction of driver-controlled operation and defence of the guards to guarantee a safer, securer and more accessible railway for all.

"The union continues to remain available for meaningful discussions with the company in order to seek a satisfactory resolution to the ongoing dispute."

Northern ran a reduced service covering Sunderland and Hartlepool last Saturday with trains mainly operating between 9am-5pm.

Richard Allan, deputy managing director of Northern, said: "We are very disappointed that the union has announced strike action. More than anything, we are sorry for the disruption it will again cause our customers but we have robust contingency plans in place to keep our customers on the move where possible.

"Everyone has a big role to play in shaping our modernisation plans. There is a lot to discuss and we urge RMT to get back round the table with an open mind as soon as possible.

"In addition to protecting jobs and current pay, we are also willing to offer future annual pay reviews for existing conductors if we can agree a deal with RMT."

Further details about Northern's services on April 28 are expected to be announced soon.