Northern Rail strike: Which services are affected this Saturday?

Travel desk
Northern Rail train: Getty

Northern Rail services will be disrupted again on Saturday 8 December, with the train operator running a much-reduced schedule in response to a planned strike.

This latest round of industrial action started on Saturday 25 August.

The strikes were called as part of an ongoing dispute over the role of train guards and rail safety involving the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union.

Travellers have been affected by bouts of industrial action taken by Northern Rail staff in March and June.

When will the strikes be happening?

The next strike period will take place between 12.01am and 11.59pm on Saturday 8 December.

Will trains still be running?

Northern will be running approximately 700 services on Saturday – but with very few services running after 5pm.

How will my journey be affected?

Some routes won’t have any services running, while others have a limited service. On those routes where trains are operating, all services are expected to be extremely busy. There are also replacement bus services available on some routes where trains aren’t running.

“We have fantastic colleagues who have supported customers by keeping our trains running on each of the RMT strike days,” said David Brown, managing director at Northern. ”We are aiming to keep as many people moving as possible and ensuring customers can still travel into the biggest towns and cities for the big seasonal events including Christmas markets – but with very few services running after 5pm.

“We expect all of our services, and those of other operators, 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.”

All customers are advised to check before travelling and, where necessary, may want to seek alternative modes of transport. Check the Northern Rail website for more details about all services affected and stay up to date by checking social media: @northernassist.

What if I’m visiting the Manchester Christmas Markets?

Passengers visiting the Christmas Markets in Manchester will see their journeys disrupted. The services that are running are expected to be extremely busy.

The service is as follows:

Bolton – No trains due to engineering work – rail replacement buses in operation.

Kirkby – No trains.

Liverpool – No Northern trains to Manchester – customers should seek alternative means of transport.

Wigan Wallgate – No trains due to engineering work. There is an hourly express service between Wigan North Western and Manchester Victoria – last train to Wigan is at 5.50pm from Victoria.

Warrington Central – No Northern trains to Manchester – customers should seek alternative means of transport.

Alderley Edge – One train every two hours. Last train to Alderley Edge is at 4.39pm from Piccadilly.

Macclesfield – One train every two hours. Last train to Macclesfield is at 4.47pm.

Buxton – One train per hour between Buxton and Manchester. Last train to Buxton is at 5.24pm from Piccadilly.

Rose Hill Marple – No trains.

Rochdale – One train per hour between Rochdale and Manchester. Last train to Rochdale is at 5.17pm from Victoria.

Hadfield/Glossop – One train per hour in each direction. Last train to Hadfield/Glossop is at 5.29pm from Piccadilly.

What if I’m visiting the Lincoln Christmas Markets?

There are no Northern services running to and from Lincoln on Saturday 8 December. Customers should seek alternative means of transport.

What if I’m going to the football?

Burnley v Brighton and Hove Albion – Hourly rail replacement bus service between Blackburn and Burnley Central and also between Burnley Central and Colne. Last bus from Burnley Central to Blackburn is at 7.12pm; last bus from Burnley Central to Colne is at 7.57pm.

Middlesbrough v Blackburn Rovers – No service between Preston and Blackburn. Hourly service to and from Clitheroe; last train from Blackburn to Clitheroe is at 5.15pm. Hourly rail replacement bus service between Blackburn and Colne; last bus from Blackburn to Colne is at 7.10pm.

Nottingham Forest v Preston North End – No Northern services to and from Nottingham. Customers are advised to use alternative means of transport.

Sheffield Wednesday v Rotherham Utd – Hourly service between Sheffield and Rotherham; last train to Rotherham is at 5.30pm.

Accrington Stanley v Sunderland – Hourly rail replacement bus service between Blackburn and Accrington and also between Accrington and Colne. Last bus from Accrington to Blackburn is at 7.29pm; last bus from Accrington to Colne is at 7.40pm.

Blackpool v Charlton Athletic – Hourly service between Blackpool North and Preston; last train to Preston from Blackpool North is at 6.38pm. Hourly service between Blackpool South and Preston; last train to Preston from Blackpool South is at 5.49pm.

Stockport County v Chester – Three rail replacement buses each way between Stockport and Chester. Last bus to Chester from Stockport is at 6pm.

What if I’m going to a concert or event?

There are no Northern services to the following events, and those affected should seek alternative travel arrangements:

FlyDSA Arena (Sheffield) – Kell Brook v Michael Zerafa (boxing)

First Direct Arena (Leeds) – Star Wars: A New Hope in Concert

Manchester Arena – James & The Charlatans

Metro Radio Arena (Newcastle) – Madness

Echo Arena (Liverpool) – Deacon Blue

Why are the strikes taking place?

The owner of Northern Rail, Arrival Rail North, a subsidiary of the German national railway Deutsche Bahn, wants to operate driver-only services with automatic doors, a move RMT argues is putting profits before public safety.

RMT general secretary, Mick Cash, said: “RMT committed to talks in good faith with Northern, but instead of making progress towards a settlement that matches the best practice in the rail industry as negotiated elsewhere, the company have opted instead to play fast and loose, making a mockery of the exercise.

“Our reps know when they are being strung along and it’s that attitude from the company that has forced us to announce this next phase of action.

“RMT members on Arriva Rail North have been in dispute for well over a year now in a battle to put public safety before private profit and we are angry and frustrated that a genuine opportunity to reach an agreement has been kicked back by the company.

“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.

“RMT recently secured an agreement on Greater Anglia that enshrines the guard guarantee. Similar agreements have also been reached in Wales and Scotland. Arriva Rail North need to do the right thing and come to an agreement that secures a guard on their trains too.”

Northern has called for RMT to suspend its December strike action and return to talks at ACAS. It claims RMT has made agreements with other train operators that it refuses to discuss with Northern.

David Brown, managing director at Northern, said: “By the end of December, we will have had 19 consecutive Saturdays of RMT strike action. This targeted action disrupts our customers’ lives. But, as we enter a vital period for businesses, it also damages the economic wellbeing of the north of England.”

Where can I find more information?

All passengers are advised to check the Northern Rail website and social media before travelling. Where possible, passengers may wish to consider alternative modes of transport.