Train passengers battle reduced services as industrial action hits North East again

Northern is running a reduced rail service on Friday and Monday.
Northern is running a reduced rail service on Friday and Monday.

Travellers are battling reduced rail services today in the latest round of industrial action over driver-only trains.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) at Arriva Rail North, whose Northern line runs between Newcastle and Middlesbrough, are striking both Friday and Monday.

An RMT banner during previous industrial action.

An RMT banner during previous industrial action.

The action is affecting passengers using Sunderland, Seaham, Hartlepool, Seaton Carew and Billingham railway stations with a reduced service operating both days.

Eight trains will operate in either direction on Friday and Monday with the last services heading south from Newcastle at 17.30 and heading north from Middesbrough at 17.33.

The long-running dispute is over the widespread introduction of driver-only trains with the RMT fearing for the safety of both passengers and staff.

Rail bosses insist the changes will guarantee jobs and pay for conductors for eight years and that the changes fall within national guidelines.

Mick Cash, general secretary of the RMT, said this morning. "Support from our members in all three disputes over public safety on our railways is absolutely solid as a rock this morning.

"These strikes are about putting passenger safety before private profit and those that seek to undermine the safety culture on our railways in order to fill their own pockets should be called to account and forced back to the negotiating table."

Arriva Rail North regional director Sharon Keith said: "We have focused on ensuring our busier routes between major towns and cities maintain a good level of service throughout the day, while replacement bus services will be available on some routes where there are no trains.

"We are asking customers to plan ahead carefully and consider whether their journey needs to be made as all trains will be far busier than normal.

"It is disappointing that RMT has timed these two days of strike action to coincide with people returning to school, college and work after the summer holidays.

"During recent talks we underlined that we are prepared to guarantee jobs and current pay for all our conductors for the next eight years. Our offers to discuss every detail on the future responsibilities and training for on-board colleagues have been rejected by RMT.

"We urge them to get back round the table with us quickly and talk seriously about our modernisation, not take unnecessary strike action."

Full details of Northern's reduced services are available here.