Northern Rail Network Asked Not to Bin its Guards

By Gary Cutlack on at

The crisis of the day on the rail network is another admin nightmare for the Northern franchise, which has been told to back down on its plans to run services with only a driver onboard.

Umbrella road/rail/bus organisation Transport for the North has asked Northern to re-engage with worker union RMT over the issue, which has triggered a mass of weekend strike action across the Northern franchise. TfN has told Northern that it can't agree with the move to driver-only trains, explaining: "Transport for the North does not support removing the second person from trains, particularly when a significant proportion of rail stations in the north of England are classed as inaccessible for disabled passengers."

TfN has also asked the RMT to cancel the remaining tranche of Saturday strikes it has planned for December, although the union is waiting for Northern to amend its driver-only plans and come up with a new option before doing so. Northern says its plan wouldn't mean all trains automatically run with only a driver in the future, but it would like that to be an option, in case someone oversleeps, or quits with no notice because of the sorry state of it all.

Basically it's a rolling maul of a mess on the trains around the north, and you'd be better off putting January's season ticket money toward a car if you live anywhere in and around the top two thirds of England and use a train for anything other than a holiday. [Guardian]