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More woe for South Yorkshire rail passengers as fresh strikes are announced

Sheffield railway station.
Sheffield railway station.
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Rail passengers in South Yorkshire have more woe in store after train staff announced three more days of strike action over the next month.

Workers on Arriva Rail North (Northern) are to stage a series of fresh 24-hour walk-outs in the bitter two-year long row over the introduction of driver-only operation on their services.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union will walk out on three consecutive Saturdays, August 25 and September 1 and 8, following the failure of talks.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: "RMT committed to talks in good faith with Northern but, instead of making progress towards a settlement that matches the best practice in the rail industry as negotiated elsewhere, the company have opted instead to play fast and loose, making a mockery of the exercise.

"Our reps know when they are being strung along and it's that attitude from the company that has forced us to announce this next phase of action.

"RMT members on Arriva Rail North have been in dispute for well over a year now in a battle to put public safety before private profit and we are angry and frustrated that a genuine opportunity to reach an agreement has been kicked back by the company.

"German-owned Northern Rail want to run nearly half a million trains a year without a safety-critical guard on board in a move that would wreck both safety and access to services and they should listen to their frontline staff and pull back from that plan immediately.

"RMT recently secured an agreement on Greater Anglia that enshrines the guard guarantee. Similar agreements have also been reached in Wales and Scotland. Arriva Rail North need to do the right thing and come to an agreement that secures a guard on their trains too.

"We thank the public for their support and understanding throughout this dispute over rail safety and access and the union remains ready for genuine and serious talks."

Richard Allan, deputy managing director of Northern, said: "The RMT's announcement of yet more strike action is disappointing and frustrating. This will be a blow for our customers.

"It comes despite Northern proposing and entering into a joint working party with RMT on the future of the on-board role. We have agreed a terms of reference for those talks, agreed to discuss the RMT's preferred outcome first and then held four days of talks with RMT in recent weeks. A further day of talks has also been proposed for Friday August 17.

"Northern is doing everything possible to find a solution to the RMT's dispute and maintains that talking costs nothing, whilst strike action causes inconvenience to customers and damages the case for long-term investment in rail."