The RMT trade union is currently in dispute with Northern (Arriva Rail North) over proposed changes to the role of the conductor.
When the RMT announces strike action, this page will contain all of the latest information on the train services we are able to operate. It will include timetables, any special travel arrangements and how to claim compensation and refunds if your train is delayed or you decide not to travel.
On strike days Northern is only able to operate a limited service. For example, on weekday strikes, the majority of available trains typically operate between 7am and 7pm, with many last trains leaving before 7pm. During these hours, the overall number of trains running are significantly reduced, with around 50 per cent of the usual number of services in operation. These trains, and any replacement buses we run, are usually very busy. Therefore we ask our customers to carefully consider whether their journey is necessary.
Why is the RMT in dispute with Northern?
Northern has embarked on a programme to modernise its services that will help make the North a better place in which to live and work. By 2020 Northern is committed to:
- Delivering better journeys with new and updated trains and improved station facilities
- Better customer service, with more people to help you on your journey than ever before
- Keeping you safe and secure, with more visible staff on trains and stations – day and night
Our plans include 98 new trains, 243 updated trains and the recruitment of more people from across our business:
- Our new trains are in production
- 70 of our upgraded trains are already out on the network, and
- More than 450 new people have joined our team since April 2016
To bring our improvements to life, we are proposing changes to modernise the conductor role to give you a better service. We are clear there will be no job or pay cuts as a result of our proposed changes, however the RMT has entered into dispute with Northern, which has resulted in several days of strike action, so far, during 2017 and 2018.
RMT has now taken strike action on 14 days. When will this dispute end?
We are unable to predict how long RMT’s dispute will last. We have again proposed to RMT that they set aside what appears to be a co-ordinated campaign in return for assurances over jobs and pay, and exploring with us what future roles will look like. We are frustrated at the lack of progress in talks as business and communities are behind our modernisation and investment plans and we want RMT to back this too.
This is the biggest improvement to local rail services for a generation, including new trains, more services and better stations. This will mean changes to roles to provide more support to customers, in addition to protecting jobs and pay for existing conductors - but those guarantees cannot last forever.
Is RMT striking at other train operators?
Yes. As well as RMT taking strike action at Northern, the union is striking at several other train operators: Southern, South Western, Merseyrail and Greater Anglia.
Can’t Northern just keep guards on trains and bring this dispute to an end?
We have a commitment to introduce Driver Controlled Operation on parts of the Northern network. This is why we want to have meaningful talks with RMT to explore future staffing options on trains and stations. In some areas we may choose to staff more stations and in others, it could make sense to have more customer support on trains. These are the important, constructive discussions we want to have with RMT.
What exactly is Driver Controlled Operation (DCO) and what are the benefits?
DCO means that the driver opens and closes the train doors. Who operates the doors is separate from how we might choose to staff trains with a second person in the future.
We can reduce the amount of time spent at stations, which gives customers a better service and brings performance benefits, especially on congested routes. It enables on-board staff to focus on customer service and revenue protection rather than operational duties, which means they are more visible and available to customers.
Would safety also be an issue at Northern if drivers controlled the train doors?
Safety is a top priority. On Driver Controlled Operation in particular, Britain’s most senior railway safety inspector says it is a safe way of working, and this way of running trains is in regular use across the network in the UK and abroad. Any changes we want to make to services or our stations are fully risk assessed, widely discussed, and approved in accordance with relevant legislation.
Will Northern’s stations be as safe when you make staff changes?
Our plans will see staff more visible and available than ever before on trains and at stations. We want to keep a second person on many of our services and, at some locations, we may choose to staff the station to give better customer support. We are investing in people and systems to make the railway even safer; for example, we now have 55 Travel Safe Officers who work on trains and at stations to help prevent and tackle anti-social behaviour.
Will Northern make any job losses or pay freezes as a result of any changes?
We want to talk about modernising with RMT, guaranteeing jobs and pay for our 1,300 conductors for at least the next eight years, until the end of our franchise. The more strike action continues the harder it is for Northern to give long-term assurances and commitments.
How do Northern decide which services to operate on strike days?
The services we provide are based on the availability and location of Northern employees who are trained conductors. Wherever possible, we also focus services on our busiest routes into major towns and cities.
How do I claim compensation during a strike?
If you do travel and experience a delay of 30 minutes or more to your journey, you can claim compensation. To claim, please visit the Delay Repay page, or ask for a Delay Repay form at any staffed station.
If you have a season ticket and decide not to travel, you can claim compensation through the Delay Repay scheme. If you have an advance purchase ticket for travel on a strike day, you can claim a refund at the point of purchase.
For more information on how to claim compensation please go to the Frequently Asked Questions.
Northern’s priority during a strike is to keep you informed and on the move. At any time you can keep up-to-date by following us on social media:
Or by going to National Rail Enquiries for train running information.
Please refer to our Frequently Asked Questions for more information.