England

Three more Northern rail strikes announced

women sit on platform looking at northern railway train
Image caption Northern rail staff will stage three more 24-hour strikes over a long-running dispute

Three more 24-hour strikes will be held in a long-running dispute over train guards, the RMT union has announced.

Services in Yorkshire, the North East and the North West will be hit by the walk-outs on 27 October and 3 and 10 November.

The union blamed Northern for the impasse, while the rail firm has called the RMT's actions "disappointing".

The Super League Grand Final on Saturday will be affected by a previously-announced strike.

More than 70,000 rugby league fans are expected at Old Trafford when Warrington Wolves play Wigan Warriors fans at 18:00 BST.

There will be no Northern trains running after 19:00 and fans have been advised to use club coaches.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Wigan have beaten Warrington in their two previous Grand Final meetings

Northern said just 30% of services will be running across the North from Cumbria, Merseyside, Yorkshire, the North East and down to Lincoln on Saturday.

Train workers will down tools for their 31st day of strike action - and eighth consecutive Saturday - while another strike was already set for Saturday 20 October.

Announcing the new strikes, which run into November, RMT General Secretary Mick Cash claimed Northern were "not interested" in resolving the dispute.

He said: "RMT continues to make every effort to get serious and meaningful talks going with Northern but the company are not interested and would prefer to continue to bury their heads in the sand regardless of the impact on the travelling public.

Extremely limited

"German-owned Northern Rail want to run nearly half a million trains a year without a safety critical guard on board in a move that would wreck both safety and access ‎to services and they should listen to their front-line staff and pull back from that plan immediately."

Liam Sumpter, Northern's regional director, said: "It is disappointing that RMT has chosen to strike on a day which has such important for the rugby league fans across the north of England.

"We are doing everything we can to run as many trains as possible, but options to and from Warrington and Wigan are extremely limited.

"We are, therefore, asking our customers to plan carefully and, where possible, use alternative transport."

Other events set to be affected by Saturday's strike

  • UK canoe slalom races at Tees Barrage in Stockton-on-Tees
  • Championship boxing event in Newcastle-upon-Tyne
  • Lower league football including FC Halifax Town v Chesterfield, which kicks off at 17:15
Image copyright PA
Image caption The two-year dispute has affected commuters and rail firms nationwide

What is the dispute about?

  • This weekend's strike is part of a nationwide two-year dispute about the increase of driver-only-operated trains
  • Driver-only-operated trains are where the driver, rather than the conductor, opens and closes the doors
  • A third of Britain's services already have this in place and it has been in operation for about 30 years
  • The rail safety regulator says it is safe - a position that has been supported by the government
  • Rail unions disagree - they say the on-board conductor or guard has a much better view of the doors and can stop people getting trapped
  • The London tube network is driver-only operated

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