An­other strike as ques­tions asked over train ‘bailout’

Yorkshire Post - - NEWS -

RAIL SER­VICES across York­shire were be­ing cur­tailed again to­day fol­low­ing the con­fir­ma­tion of a 35th strike by mem­bers of the RMT union, over the roles of train guards.

Evening ser­vices on most North­ern routes were can­celled, with some lines also closed through the day.

The lat­est strike comes amid rev­e­la­tions that North­ern Rail’s par­ent com­pany, Ar­riva, and its Ger­man owner are in cri­sis talks with the Gov­ern­ment over the level of tax­payer sub­sidy the fran­chise re­ceives.

Dur­ing the year to March 2017, £279m was handed to North­ern, on top of the es­ti­mated £300m it col­lects from pas­sen­gers. Min­is­ters are com­mit­ted to re­duc­ing the sub­sidy by £16m a year – but the for­mer Rail Min­is­ter, Jo John­son, has told MPs that North­ern’s hand­out dur­ing the suc­ceed­ing 12 months had gone up by £3m.

Pas­sen­ger num­bers on its ser­vices are be­lieved to be fall­ing as com­muters aban­don the rails fol­low­ing a sum­mer of de­lays and can­cel­la­tions caused by a botched timetable change in May.

North­ern said: “Th­ese de­lays were out of our con­trol and have im­pacted growth in pas­sen­ger num­bers.”

The RMT de­scribed the firm as “a bas­ket-case com­pany seek­ing fur­ther pub­lic bail-out”.

Its gen­eral sec­re­tary, Mick Cash said: “Ar­riva are milk­ing the tax­payer for over a quar­ter of a bil­lion pounds a year in sub­si­dies and can then se­cure an ad­di­tional bail-out from pub­lic funds for loss of in­come dur­ing a strike.”

The RMT has called fur­ther Satur­day strikes on ev­ery week un­til the end of the year.

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