Government commits to keeping second staff member on board trains

A Northern train
A Northern train

The Government has committed to keeping a second member of staff on board all Northern's trains.

The Department for Transport and Transport for the North made the announcement in the hope of bringing to an end the RMT union's long-running campaign of strikes protesting driver-only operations in the region.

Related: Transport group backs keeping guards on trains in move to end rail strike

Last Saturday was the 37th day of industrial action travellers in Wigan and across Northern's operating area have faced.

The authorities are desperate to get the parties back around the table to negotiate an agreement amid fears of travel chaos during the festive season.

David Brown, managing director at Northern, said: “It’s welcome news that the Government has confirmed that a second person will be retained on board our trains.

“There is no reason for the RMT to continue its disruptive and economically damaging strikes in the build-up to Christmas.

“We invited RMT to Acas talks in the summer and were willing to discuss the options that they themselves put forward, including those RMT had agreed with other train operators.

“Despite those talks breaking down, we have remained open to further discussions, but all attempts have been rejected by RMT.

“I look forward to RMT suspending their December strike, and accepting my long-standing invitation to get back round the table at Acas to resolve their dispute.”

Northern says the commitment answers the union's worries about safety, security and access to the railway for disabled passengers and described the second staff member's work with customers as "vital".

Northern has also promise to continue modernising the rail network with new trains, better stations and more services.

Yesterday the RMT gave a guarded welcome to Transport for the North's announcement in favour of keeping a second employee on all trains and stressed the union is available for talks.