Union wants assurances guards will stay on Cumbria's trains

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A Northern Rail Carlisle-bound train heads north from Whitehaven on the Cumbrian Coast line.
A Northern Rail Carlisle-bound train heads north from Whitehaven on the Cumbrian Coast line.

A RAIL union wants assurances around the future of guards on Northern Rail trains.

RMT has told Arriva Rail North, which operates Northern Rail, it will be in dispute with the company if it doesn't provide cast-iron assurances for the future of guards by Thursday, January 26.

The union says the future of the guards is uncertain at the moment but defends their role as critical to safety.

Northern Rail runs trains all over the north of England including the west coast of Cumbria, and Carlisle to Settle and Newcastle lines.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: "We have been seeking assurances from Arriva Rail North that they will retain a guard on their trains and that the guard will retain their safety critical role. Regrettably this assurance has to date not been received.

"The RMT find this lack of clarity unacceptable and we have advised the company that should we not receive these assurances by Thursday 26th January 2017 then our two organisations will be in dispute."

About 35 train conductors and cleaners in Carlisle are also planning to vote on strike action on Northern Rail services in a dispute over pay.

The RMT union says the pay offer put forward by Arriva Rail North, which operates Northern Rail, is "unacceptable" and "does not match the benchmarks for pay deals that RMT has set elsewhere in the industry".

Arriva Rail North, which is part of Deutsche Bahn, became the new rail operator for Northern Rail on April 1 last year, marking the start of a nine-year franchise.

Craig Johnston, RMT regional organiser based in Cumbria, said the pay offer that was just above inflation for the next four years was nowhere near good enough.

But Northern said it was "disappointed" at the ballot and had offered staff "an above inflation pay rise".

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