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Sunderland and Hartlepool train travellers face two more days of strikes

Northern passengers face reduced services next week. Left, Northern's Sharon Keith. Right, union boss Mick Cash.
Northern passengers face reduced services next week. Left, Northern's Sharon Keith. Right, union boss Mick Cash.

Emergency timetables have been released for the latest round of a bitter rail dispute.

Train passengers in Sunderland, Seaham, Hartlepool, Seaton Carew and Billingham will face two days of reduced services next week after the Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers union (RMT) announced two separate strikes.

Members working for Northern will take industrial action on Monday, March 26, and Thursday, March 29, when many travellers will begin their Easter getaway.

The company has now confirmed that it will run eight services along its Durham coast route between Newcastle and Middlesbrough in both directions between 7am-7pm on both days.

Sharon Keith, Northern’s regional director, said: “Once again we have developed amended timetables designed to keep the majority of our customers on the move at key times during the working day.

“We expect out services to be busy and, with amended timetables, we’re calling on our customers to plan ahead, check carefully and allow extra time for any journeys.

"Customers should also be aware that the timetables in place for strike days replace those already in operation in areas where engineering work is ongoing.”

The ongoing strikes started more than a year ago and centre on a row between the RMT and Northern parent company Arriva Rail North over staff and customer safety.

The union fears Arriva's modernisation programme will result in the loss of 1,200 guard roles and leave both drivers and passengers isolated.

On the other hand, Arriva insists the changes will help "maintain high safety standards, deliver faster and more frequent services, more space, better stations, and staff will be more visible and available than ever before".

Regular discussions between both parties have so far failed to broker a settlement and RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “Every single effort that RMT has made to reach a negotiated settlement with Northern Rail over safe operation and safe staffing has been kicked back in our faces.

"No one should be in any doubt, this dispute is about putting the safety of the travelling public before the profits of the private train companies.

Full details of Northern's emergency timetable is available at https://www.northernrailway.co.uk/strike