Disruption to Sheffield rail services to continue  into 2019 as guard row rumbles on

Rail workers locked in a bitter dispute over the role of guards will continue their weekly strike action in the New year after announcing a fresh wave of walkouts.

Members of the Rail and Maritime Union will walk out every Saturday in January – beginning on January 5, affecting services at Sheffield railway station.

RMT senior assistant general secretary Steve Hedley and the union's Sheffield & District branch secretary Emma Abel outside Sheffield railway station.

RMT senior assistant general secretary Steve Hedley and the union's Sheffield & District branch secretary Emma Abel outside Sheffield railway station.

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The RMT union said it would continute to campaign for a second person on train services but Northern said there was ‘no reason’ for the ‘disruptive’ strikes.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “It is the sheer guts and resilience of our members over the past two years that has kept the fight for safe and accessible rail travel for all across the Northern franchise in the spotlight while the company continue to duck and dive and refuse to face up to the key issues.

"While this company lurch from crisis to crisis it has only been the determination of RMT members, and our supporters from the ‎travelling public, whose solidarity has been instrumental in keeping the focus of the dispute on the campaign for a guaranteed second person on the train with the full suite of safety competencies.

Sheffield railway station.

Sheffield railway station.

"We thank the public for their continuing support and understanding in a dispute which is about putting rail safety before private profit.”

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Northern said around 700 services would run on January 5 – but with very few Northern services running after 5pm.  It warned that those Northern services that do run, and other operators’ services, are expected to be extremely busy.

The operator called on RMT to suspend its damaging strike action and accept an independent ACAS inquiry.

David Brown, managing director at Northern, said: “More than 50 per cent 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.”

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He added: “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.”

For more information visit www.northernrailway.co.uk/strike