Passengers face three more days of misery after new rail strike is called

Northern rail users are facing more disruption to services next month.
Northern rail users are facing more disruption to services next month.
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Train travellers face three days of disruption after union leaders called a new strike amid the continuing row over rail safety.

The row, centred on the role of guards as part of a modernisation programme, will hit passengers on Arriva Rail North's Northern services between Saturday, July 8, and Monday, July 10.

Northern mainly runs trains in this area between Newcastle and Middlesbrough with stops at Sunderland, Seaham, Hartlepool, Seaton Carew and Billingham.

Other services continue north to the Metro Centre and south to James Cook Hospital, in Middlesbrough, and Nunthorpe.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union said the latest in a series of strikes was inevitable because Arriva had "rejected point blank every attempt to try and broker a safe and

sustainable settlement to the dispute".

In response, Arriva said it was disappointed that customers would suffer because of what it labelled as the union's refusal to get around the discussion table.

The RMT fears the introduction of new rolling stock is an excuse to axe guards and will reduce safety for passengers and staff alike on Driver Only Operation (DOO) trains.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “The sheer intransigence of Arriva Rail North means that we have no option but to confirm a further round of strike action.

"The responsibility for the inevitable disruption lies wholly with the company. We are angry and frustrated that Arriva continue to face up to the facts and also continue to ignore a

perfectly reasonable union proposal to invite the Department for Transport to join us in three way talks aimed at finding a solution.

"Instead, they have chosen to up the ante by demanding that RMT attends talks solely to discuss the implementation of plans the company know we are wholly opposed to. That is a

total disgrace."

Richard Allan, Northern's deputy managing director, said: "We are deeply disappointed and hugely frustrated that RMT is choosing to cause more pain for our colleagues and customers

rather than get round the table to talk first.

"Only this week we wrote to RMT again, urging them to engage in meaningful modernisation talks with us.

"We have been clear that for all our conductors we are prepared to guarantee jobs and current pay, and continue with annual pay reviews, if we can reach agreement with RMT."

Arriva, which stresses that its proposed changes from 2020 would meet national guidelines without compromising safety, ran a reduced service during previous strikes.

Its temporary timetable for the impending round of industrial action has still to be confirmed.