Rail services across the North West will be disrupted today by a fresh strike in the long-running dispute over guards on trains.
Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union on Arriva Rail North (Northern) will walk out for 24 hours, and again on Thursday and Saturday.
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Northern said it will concentrate on running as many services as possible between 7am and 7pm on Tuesday and Thursday, while services will start later and finish earlier than usual on Saturday.
Regional director for Northern Sharon Keith said: "On each day of the strike action we will be running fewer services and expect those services we do operate to be extremely busy.
"It is, therefore, vital that anyone thinking of travelling with Northern on Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday plans their journey carefully."
The RMT has called for last-ditch talks to resolve the dispute, and complained that taxpayers and passengers, and not Northern, are footing the bill for the cost of strike action.
A clause in the franchise agreement signed between Northern Rail and the Government says Transport Secretary Chris Grayling can reimburse Northern Rail for "net losses arising from industrial action", said the union.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: "It's another day and another rail scandal under Chris Grayling.
"It is utterly shocking that he is using Northern taxpayers and passengers' money to reimburse German state-owned Northern Rail for money they have lost as a result of strike.
"By bankrolling Northern in this way, Chris Grayling is seeking to prolong this dispute and break the workforce.
"It will not work and our members remain as solid as ever in the fight to ensure safety and access for all on railways across the North.
"Instead of propping up a foreign owned company in its fight against British workers, Chris Grayling should be allowing meaningful discussions to take place which would allow passengers to keep a second member of staff on every train."
A Department for Transport spokesman said: The only people hitting taxpayers in this pointless and unnecessary strike action is the RMT.
"This dispute is not about jobs or safety. Guards have been guaranteed their jobs and the independent rail regulator has ruled that driver-controlled
trains, which have been used in this country for 30 years, are safe.
"We urge the union to abandon these strikes, work with the train operator and make passengers' services their number one priority."
- RMT members on South Western Railway will strike for three days from Thursday in the same dispute.
For more information about affected routes please see here