More rail misery for Sunderland and Hartlepool rail passengers

Rail passengers face more strike misery on Northern's services this weekend.
Rail passengers face more strike misery on Northern's services this weekend.

Passengers are set for more misery as rail staff strike for the 14th consecutive Saturday.

The industrial action affects Northern services stopping at Sunderland, Seaham, Hartlepool, Seaton Carew and Billingham stations along the Newcastle-Middlesbrough line.

Arriva Rail North (ARN), Northern's parent company, is running an emergency timetable with eight trains travelling in either direction between around 7.30am-6.30pm.

The long-running dispute, which will continue on Saturdays until at least December 15, centres on the operator's plans to introduce more driver only trains.

The Rail and Maritime Transport (RMT) workers union fears this will increase safety fears for both staff and passengers.

General secretary Mick Cash said: "It is crystal clear that the axing of guards is a cash-driven exercise aimed at shoring up profits on these rail franchises regardless of the public consequences."

Northern, however, insists its proposed changes are part of an extensive modernisation programme including £500 million of new trains, better stations and more services.

Guard jobs would be protected until at least 2025 with the company anxious for talks chaired by arbitration service Acas to resume.

Deputy managing director Richard Allan said: "The RMT strikes are affecting customers who want to enjoy Christmas markets and important seasonal events and damaging the economy.

"Talking costs nothing so we urge RMT to come back to Acas talks."

Further details of Saturday's emergency timetables are available at www.northernrailway.co.uk/strike