1. ITV Report

Fresh strikes planned for crisis-hit Northern rail services

A Northern train at Liverpool South Parkway station Photo: Press Association.

A series of fresh rail strikes will be launched this week in the long-running dispute over the role of guards on trains, causing more disruption to services.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union will walk out on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday on Northern trains, operated by Arriva Rail North.

The dispute has been raging for over two years and now affects five train operators nationally, including the Merseyrail.

The union called for last-ditch talks to resolve the Northern strike, claiming that taxpayers and passengers, and not the company, are footing the bill for the cost of the industrial action.

The RMT said a clause in the franchise agreement signed between Northern and the Government says Transport Secretary Chris Grayling can reimburse Northern Rail for "net losses arising from industrial action".

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: "It's another day and another rail scandal under Chris Grayling. It is utterly shocking that he is using Northern taxpayers and passenger's money to reimburse German state-owned Northern Rail for money they have lost as a result of strike action.

"By bankrolling Northern in this way Chris Grayling is seeking to prolong this dispute and break the workforce. Well, it will not work and our members remain as solid as ever in the fight to ensure safety and access for all on railways across the North.

"Instead of propping up a foreign-owned company in its fight against British workers Chris Grayling should be allowing meaningful discussions to take place which would allow passengers to keep a second member of staff on every train.

"We are awaiting a positive response from Northern to the union's repeated call for talks."