Northern Rail services will be disrupted again on Saturday 29 December, with the train operator running a much-reduced schedule in response to a planned strike.
Very few trains will run after 5pm on Saturdays in December and January.
This latest round of industrial action started on Saturday 25 August, and was 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 were also affected by bouts of industrial action taken by Northern Rail staff in March and June 2018.
When will the strikes be happening?
The next strike will take place between 12.01am and 11.59pm on Saturday 29 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?
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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.
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.
“We have fantastic colleagues who have supported customers by keeping our trains running on each of the RMT strike days. 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.”
As well as Christmas markets, there are a number of significant sporting fixtures and other events this weekend and customers are asked to check timetables and plan carefully.
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.
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.
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“German-owned Northern Rail want to run nearly half a million trains a year without a safety critical guard onboard 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 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.
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.