TRAIN services operated by the Northern franchise continued to be disrupted during December, with the RMT union imposing strike action on successive Saturdays in the run-up to Christmas. By the end of the month, there will have been 19 successive Saturdays when it has only been possible to run 30% of planned services.
Support for the industrial action shows no sign of abating among the staff concerned, and as a result the franchise operator Arriva has produced a contingency plan based on the staffing resources available that provides a much-reduced timetable with last trains departing by 17.00. The lack of rail services later in the day will affect retailers and many sporting and cultural events across the North.
The dispute centres around Driver Controlled Operation (DCO), which will account for some 50% of the franchise’s future services as determined by the Northern Rail Partnership, which is a body formed by the Department for Transport and Transport for the North.
There is a commitment to fund an on board member of staff on all services, but there is no requirement for safety critical training. This means untrained on board staff could not carry out procedures such as train evacuations, which would instead require trackside attendance by other qualified personnel.
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