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Manchester Evening News
Manchester Evening News
Paul Britton

Travel warning for rail passengers ahead of planned strike action

Train operator Northern, which runs services across Greater Manchester and the north west, has issued a travel warning to passengers ahead of further planned strike action on the railways next week.

The RMT union announced earlier this week it had suspended all industrial action for Network Rail workers after receiving a new pay offer. But Northern said the RMT strike for members working for a total of 14 train operating companies including themselves remained in place.

As a result, it has advised all passengers to check before they travel on two dates next week - Thursday, March 16 and Saturday, March 18 - saying a 'skeleton service' would run.

Northern said it would run an amended strike timetable on the affected days, with a 12-hour operation on selected routes from 7am to 7pm. In addition to the action on 16 and 18 March, there are further RMT strikes planned for 30 March and 1 April.

In a statement Northern also warned of knock-on delays, adding: "Given the impact of the RMT action on fleet displacement, services are expected to start later than usual on the days immediately following the strike dates, although a full timetable will run on those days once services are up and running."

Tricia Williams, chief operating officer at Northern, said: "We’re expecting the skeleton services we can run to be very busy – so customers should plan ahead and check before they travel.

A union picket line (PA)

"Given the reduced timetable only runs until 7pm, I’m very keen to stress that people should check their last train home on those dates – so that customers don’t find themselves stranded at the wrong end of the line as a result of this action by the RMT."

RMT members at Network Rail, meanwhile, are now voting on an offer aimed at resolving the bitter industrial dispute. The referendum on what the union described as a “new and improved” offer will run until March 20.

The RMT said the proposal “involves extra money” and is not conditional on accepting Network Rail’s maintenance reforms. Network Rail has always insisted pay rises can only be funded through modernising how it carries out maintenance, and has already started consulting on changes.

The union said it is better than a previous offer it rejected as the 2023 pay rise would be backdated to October 2022. It went on: “Network Rail’s offer amounts to an uplift on salaries of between 14.4 per cent for the lowest paid grades to 9.2% for the highest paid.”

The RMT has been engaged in national rail strikes since June last year, frequently decimating services.

Northern is the second largest train operator in the UK, with nearly 2,500 services a day to more than 500 stations across the North of England.

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