A FRESH strike has been called by the rail unions, affecting services in East Lancashire, after talks between officials and the operator broke down.

Rail union RMT has called for industrial action on Friday, April 28, as part of its latest in a series of 24-hour stoppages.

Staff representatives and franchise holder Northern have been at loggerheads over the role of guards and passenger safety for months.

While the union has accused parent company Arriva Rail North of 'digging their heels in' over driver-only operated trains, the firm insists it needs to modernise.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash believes Northern is keen to introduce driver-only trains, leaving services without a guard, for 50 per cent of its services in the coming years.

Mr Cash said: “The public, who support RMT’s campaign for a guarantee of a guard on their trains, will be appalled Arriva Rail North has failed to offer any kind of progress whatsoever in the talks and has instead opted to try and bulldoze through its plans regardless.”


Richard Allan, deputy managing director of Northern, said: “We are very disappointed the union has announced strike action.

“More than anything, we are sorry for the disruption it will again cause our customers, but we have robust contingency plans in place to keep our customers on the move where possible.

“Everyone has a big role to plan in shaping our modernisation plans. There is a lot to discuss and we urge RMT to get back round the table with an open mind as soon as possible.

“We are also willing to offer future, annual pay reviews for conductors if we can agree a deal with RMT.”

The union has also signalled a readiness to get back to the negotiating table.