Rail workers throughout the north wet will stage their 46th strike today in the long-running dispute over guards on trains, causing fresh disruption to passengers.
Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union on Arriva Rail North (Northern) will mount picket lines across the region as they continue their campaign which they say is in defence of rail safety.
Mick Cash, general secretary of the RMT, said figures released this week showing an increase in knife crime reinforces the need for safety-critical guards on trains.
“RMT members will be standing solid again tomorrow for the 46th day in support of a safe and accessible railway for all in the long-running fight to put public safety before private profit.
“Guards are the eyes and ears of the service, axing them in the drive towards an automated and faceless railway in the name of profit gives a green light to the thugs and criminals and is grossly and dangerously irresponsible on the part of Northern Rail.
“Now is the time for the company to face up to their responsibilities and guarantee a safety-critical guard on every train with the full suite of competencies .
“We thank the public for their support and understanding throughout this dispute over rail safety and access and the union remains ready for genuine and serious talks.”
David Brown, Northern’s managing director, said: “More than 50% of all rail journeys in the UK are made on driver-controlled trains and recently the Department for Transport and Transport for the North publicly confirmed that a second person, in addition to the driver, would be retained on Northern services.
“This second person will provide customer service, including meeting customer needs on accessibility, safety, security, ticketing and information.
“Therefore, there is no reason for the RMT to continue its disruptive and economically damaging strikes but despite this, the RMT continues with its strike action.
“We expect all of our service on Saturdays in January to be extremely busy and are calling on our customers to plan their travel carefully for the coming weekend, check the new timetables well in advance, and make sure they do not rely on the last trains home.”