Reduced Saturday service for Sunderland and Hartlepool rail travellers

An RMT union banner at a previous strike
An RMT union banner at a previous strike

Travellers face another weekend of rail misery as staff hold another one-day strike in a long running safety dispute.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) working for Arriva Rail North (ARN), which runs Northern services through Sunderland and Hartlepool, are taking industrial action on consecutive Saturdays until December 15.

The ongoing dispute means only five trains will operate in either direction this Saturday.

Other stations along the Durham coast line between Newcastle and Middesbrough to be affected by the emergency timetable include Seaham, Seaton Carew and Billingham.

The row centres on plans by Arriva Rail North to introduce more driver-only trains.

The RMT fears this endangers both staff and passenger safety and 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.

Northern managing director David Brown said: “Our offer to resume ACAS talks remains open and we will meet the union anytime, anywhere. We challenge the union to suspend their action and come back to the table.”

Saturday's services from Sunderland and Hartlepool operate between around 7.30am-6.30pm. Grand Central trains serving both stations are unaffected by the dispute.

Full details can be found at www.northernrailway.co.uk/strike