Northern Rail passengers face disruption this month after staff voted to strike over plans to axe guards from trains.
Members of the RMT union voted by 83.6% to strike in support of their campaign to keep the guarantee of a guard on every Northern Rail train. Strike action is scheduled for Monday, March 13.
A bitter row over Driver Only Operation involving the RMT has brought strikes and months of misery for travellers on Southern Trains.
A spokesman for Northern Rail said that in the event of a strike passengers could be reassured that “we have plans in place to keep them moving.”
Northern Rail services include Huddersfield-Sheffield, Huddersfield-Wakefield Westgate and Leeds-Huddersfield.
In a letter to Kirklees councillors seeking support to resolve the dispute, RMT general secretary Mick Cash said the guard was “safety critical” and trained to help protect the safety of the train and passengers as well as provide advice and assistance, check and sell tickets and help disabled passengers at unstaffed stations.
It said: “RMT are in dispute with Northern Rail because the company are proposing to end the guarantee of a guard on every train by introducing Driver Controlled Operation (also known as Driver Only Operation) on at least half of Northern Rail services.”
It said the RMT had recently made agreements with Transpennine Express, Scotrail, East Coast and Great Western to retain a guard on every train – but Northern was pressing ahead with Driver Only Operation despite previous comments by outgoing managing director Alex Hynes that there were no such plans.
It said Northern appeared to be claiming it was mandated to introduce Driver Only Operation under the terms of its franchise agreement, which is jointly overseen by Rail North and the Department for Transport – but said there was nothing in the franchise agreement to prevent Northern from keeping a guard on every train.
A spokesman for Northern said: “As our modernisation proposals are still in the early stages, it is a shame that RMT has announced strike action for Monday, March 13. Our aim is to reach a constructive resolution and we urge RMT to continue the talks we have already started.
“We want to protect jobs and pay, and during our recent discussions we offered to consult fully with our people, customers and key stakeholders.
“If strike action goes ahead, our customers can be reassured that we have plans in place to keep them moving. During any strike action, we plan to run a revised service and will shortly release further information.”