Union welcomes MPs’ support for Northern Rail guard campaign

A Northern Rail pacer train.
A Northern Rail pacer train.
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Rail union RMT has welcomed a motion tabled in Parliament by MPs from across the north which supports the campaign for guards to be retained on every Northern train.

It follows yesterday’s strike action which saw the company run around 40 per cent of its usual services as staff took part in a 24-hour walkout.

The early-day motion reads: ‘That this House welcomes the fact that Northern Rail passengers are currently guaranteed a safety-critical train guard on board every Northern Rail train to assist in protecting the safety of the train and passengers, provide advice and assistance and allow disabled passengers to embark and disembark at unstaffed stations.’

It adds that it ‘believes that there is no need for such a dispute if Northern Rail is allowed by the Government and Rail North to reach a similar agreement to those recently reached by TransPennine Express and Scotrail which have retained guards; and calls on the Government and Rail North to act urgently to facilitate such an agreement’.

And in a letter to every councillor in the north, RMT general secretary, Mick Cash, has said: “RMT does not want a dispute and indeed recently made agreements with Transpennine Express, Scotrail, East Coast and Great Western which retains the guarantee of a guard. All these agreements cover new, modern, faster trains that are being ordered for these franchises.”

Today, he added: “We welcome the support of MPs for the right of passengers to be able to keep the guarantee of a guard on their trains, which, as deals elsewhere have shown, can be achieved on brand-new modern rolling stock.

“The MPs’ support, coming on top of the Labour Party’s support nationally and the positive support from politicians across the north, shows that instead of going backwards with old-fashioned cuts and union busting, there is now a growing consensus that we can have a new modern service which retains the guarantee of second member of staff on every train.

“There is in fact nothing in the franchise agreement to prevent Northern Rail from keeping the guarantee of a guard on every train, but if the Government is blocking a deal then it is time for Rail North Councils and councillors to stand up to Ministers in London and an insist they allow a settlement.”

Northern Rail runs a route which connects the Metrocentre and Newcastle with Cramlington, Morpeth, Pegswood, Widdrington, Acklington, Alnmouth and Chathill. It also runs a service from the city to Carlisle via a number of locations in the west of Northumberland.