Finally. After around two years and just under 50 days of strike action it seems there may be light at the end of the tunnel - sorry 🙄
Train operator Northern and trade union RMT just might be able to hash out a deal to end the industrial action which has turned railway travel on a Saturday in the north of England into something deeply unpleasant.
I’ve only had to experience this once so far, on the way back from Manchester Christmas Markets and it was one helluva squeeze in that three-car Transpennine Express train.
The dispute stems from a commitment made by Northern in its franchise agreement with the Department for Transport to introduce Driver Controlled Operation (DCO) meaning it would be train drivers rather than train guards or conductors who would open and close doors at stations.
This isn’t something which the RMT agrees with, saying that it’s a safety issue and that there should be a guarantee of a second person working in a safety-critical role on a train.
Now, it appears that Northern have blinked first by offering a guarantee of a conductor on all services, including planned new rolling stock, until the end of the train operators franchise period in 2025.
It is worth wondering what exactly Northern would like its “conductors” to do on trains in the future as there’s been no word of them being in a safety-critical role, as the RMT had previously demanded.
The talks, as ever, continue.