Rail strikes called off after breakthrough in bitter dispute over train guards

A Northern train
A Northern train

Long-running strikes on Arriva Rail North over guards on trains have been suspended after "substantial progress" aimed at resolving the bitter dispute.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) at ARN (Northern) have taken 47 days of industrial action and were due to walk out on the next two Saturdays.

The action has caused huge disruption for rail passengers since the row flared two years ago.

The union said the company had offered a guarantee of a conductor on all trains during talks at the conciliation service Acas.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: "I want to pay tribute to RMT's members on Northern Rail whose resilience and determination through two years and 47 days of action has been the foundation on which today's major breakthrough has been based.

"I also want to thank the travelling public for their extraordinary support and both Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram (Manchester and Liverpool Mayors) for their efforts that have been important in allowing us to break the deadlock today.

"Today's offer of a guarantee of a conductor on all services throughout the duration of the franchise, including the new fleet, is the substantial progress we have been pushing for and has allowed RMT's executive to take the decision to suspend the current action and allow for further talks to now take place with all stakeholders around the operational details."

David Brown, managing director of Northern, said: "We warmly welcome RMT's decision to suspend its strike action and recommence talks about what the future role of the conductor looks like.

"We have been very clear in these discussions that there will be a conductor on all our trains now and into the future. We are looking forward to further positive talks with RMTabout operational models moving ahead so that we can resolve the dispute and bring it to an end. The suspension of the RMT strikes is good news for customers and businesses across the North."

Northern said it was too late to reintroduce a full timetable for this Saturday, warning that few services will run after 5pm, adding that a full service will run from February 16.