More pain is on its way for rail commuters with three days of Northern Rail strike action planned for next week.
Northern Rail will cancel nearly half its services during three days of industrial action on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday next week - just as pupils and workers head back after the Christmas break.
Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union at Northern, South Western Railway, Greater Anglia, Merseyrail, and the Isle of Wight’s Island Line will walk out on January 8, 10 and 12, in the long-running dispute over the role of guards. It comes days after passengers were hit by rail fare increases.
Northern aims to run around 1,350 of its 2,500 services each day across the north of England. Most will run between 7am and 7pm and all are expected to be busy - especially during rush hours. Commuters are advised to allow extra time to travel and plan carefully.
On strike days, the first train to Blackburn and Preston will leave Accrington at 7.34am and is scheduled to arrive at 8am, with the last train back leaving Preston at 5.30pm, and Blackburn at 6.42pm.
The last train from Manchester to Accrington will leave at 6.56pm, arriving at 8.30pm.
The first train from Accrington to Burnley will leave at 6.10am and arrive at 6.30am, with the last train back leaving Burnley Barracks at 9.47pm. From Burnley to Accrington, the first train will depart at 7.17am, scheduled to arrive at 7.34am, with the last train back to Burnley leaving at just 7pm.
If you experience a delay over 30 minutes or have a season ticket that doesn’t allow travel on buses, trams or ferries can claim compensation with Northern’s Delay Repay scheme.
Sharon Keith, regional director at Northern, said: “Services across the three days will be busy as many people are returning to work and school after the Christmas break.
“We are doing all we can to keep our customers on the move and are focussing on running as many trains as possible between 7am and 7pm to get people to work and home again.”
Northern Rail is planning to revamp the network with 98 new trains, 243 updated trains and faster and more frequent services.
Ms Keith said part of this plan included changing the conductor roles. She said those currently in conductor roles would be guaranteed jobs for the next eight years if an agreement could be reached with RMT. The Government has also guaranteed the employment of conductors beyond 2025 and into the next franchise if RMT ends its dispute, she said.
All claims can be made using the Delay Repay process on Northern’s website or by collecting a form at any staffed station.
Rail union RMT claims Northern ‘refused point blank’ to enter into ‘serious and genuine’ negotiations.
Mick Cash, general secretary, said: “Our members are angry and frustrated that yet again a genuine opportunity to make progress in talks has been kicked into touch by the pig-headed and intransigent attitude of Arriva Rail North who simply want their staff to surrender to their demands to axe guards from half their trains regardless of the safety consequences.
“RMT was prepared to enter into a serious discussion around operational models similar to agreements reached in Wales and Scotland but the door was slammed in our faces.”
Richard Allan, Northern’s deputy managing director, said: “Northern is committed to investing in new and updated trains, better stations and faster journeys for our customers. Northern is still prepared to guarantee jobs and pay for conductors for the rest of our franchise to 2025 if we can reach agreement on how our colleagues deliver better customer service using those fantastic new facilities.
"RMT is striking yet again at Northern and at the same time on several other train operators. We will be working hard to keep customers on the move during these next RMT strike days.”
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