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Rail passengers face two more days of strike action on North East services; The RMT rail union has announced fresh industrial action in response to proposals to introduce driver-only trains.

Byline: Sean Seddon

North East passengers are set to be hit by more disruption as the RMT rail union has announced plans for a further two days of strike action.

Its members will stage 24 hour walk outs on March 26 and March 29 in protest against Arriva Rail North's plans to introduce driver only operated trains.

It managesNorthernwhich runs services betweenNewcastleand Northumberland and Teesside as well as the Tyne Valley line to Hexham and Carlisle.

The dispute has been running over a year now and the rail company argues that driver-only trains are a long due modernisation and point out it is common in other countries.

Rails unions have argued reducing the number of guards will negatively impact on the safety of passengers.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: "Every single effort that RMT has made to reach a negotiated settlement with Northern Rail over safe operation and safe staffing has been kicked back in our faces.

"No one should be in any doubt, this dispute is about putting the safety of the travelling public before the profits of the private train companies

"It is frankly ludicrous that we have been able to negotiate long-term arrangements in Scotland and Wales that protect the guards and passenger safety but we are being denied the same opportunities with rail companies in England.

"Theresa May and Chris Grayling are happy to stand aside and cheer on overseas rail companies that rip-off the British passenger with eye-watering far increases to subsidise their domestic transport operations while throwing the guards off our trains."

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He also said the union is open to further talks.

Richard Allan, Northern's deputy managing director, said: "We urge RMT to move away from its nationally coordinated campaign and allow its local representatives to engage in meaningful discussions with us on how we better serve customers on-board.

"We are still prepared to offer unprecedented guarantees of jobs and pay reviews until the end of our franchise in 2025, with the Government guaranteeing jobs beyond that if RMT ends strike action.

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"RMT has also rejected our request to hold a fresh ballot despite one in five conductors having started in the role since the RMT dispute started, and have therefore never had a vote.

"We are now concentrating our efforts on running as many services as possible for customers on March 26 and 29."

CAPTION(S):

Credit: Evening Gazette

A Northern Rail train

Credit: PA

A RMT flag

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Publication:The Chronicle (Newscastle upon Tyne, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Mar 13, 2018
Words:436
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