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Sunderland and Hartlepool rail passengers face another Saturday of disruption

Rail passengers in Sunderland and Hartlepool are facing more disruption on Saturday.
Rail passengers in Sunderland and Hartlepool are facing more disruption on Saturday.

Train travellers are facing another Saturday of disruption as a bitter safety dispute continues.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union working for Arriva Rail North (ARN) have walked out for the fifth successive Saturday.

Their action means only five of the company's Northern services are operating in each direction on the Middlesbrough-Newcastle route.

Among the stations the trains stop at are Sunderland, Seaham, Hartlepool, Seaton Carew and Billingham.

Metro and Grand Central services along the same route are not affected.

The dispute is over Arriva Rail North's plans to introduce more driver-only trains.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: "This is the 28th day of strike action in the Northern Rail dispute and our members remain absolutely resolute in the campaign for a safe, secure and accessible railway for all.

"It is scandalous that while other train operators have been prepared to engage seriously with RMT on the crucial issue of a guaranteed second safety-critical member of staff on their services, ARN have treated us with contempt and made a mockery of the talks process.

"It's about time that German-owned ARN, part of the giant state Deutsche Bahn outfit, stopped treating their frontline, safety critical staff like dirt and started talking seriously and positively with the union on the issue of the guard guarantee.

"RMT will not allow safety, security and access on our railways to be compromised in the drive for private profit.

"We thank the public for their continuing support and understanding that this dispute is all about safety and passenger service."

Richard Allan, deputy managing director at Northern, accused the RMT of changing the basis of planned talks, adding: "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."

Details of September 22's emergency timetable can be found here.