TRAIN strikes will go ahead across the North West after a third series of emergency talks broke down this week.

Rail union bosses today confirmed plans to go ahead with their 39th strike in the ongoing battle over the role of conductors on services.

The strike tomorrow, which is part of a string of action set to stretch to the end of the year, will mean very few services will run after 5pm, Northern managing director David Brown has confirmed.

In Bolton, trains tomorrow have already been suspended and will be replaced with buses as engineers attempt to finish key sections of delayed engineering work.

But, anyone travelling in other parts of the region will be faced with limited options and - should no agreement be reached - Bolton passengers will be hit by the strikes when services return next Saturday.

Mr Brown said: “By the end of December, we will have had 19 consecutive Saturdays of RMT strike action. This targeted action disrupts our customers’ lives. But, as we enter a vital period for businesses, it also damages the economic wellbeing of the north of England.

“We have fantastic colleagues who have supported customers by keeping our trains running on each of the RMT strike days. We are aiming to keep as many people moving as possible and ensuring customers can still travel into the biggest towns and cities for the big seasonal events including Christmas markets – but with very few services running after 5pm.

“We expect all of our services, and those of other operators, to be extremely busy and are calling on our customers to plan their travel carefully for the coming weekend, check the new timetables well in advance, and make sure they do not rely on the last trains home.”

But, RMT union general secretary Mick Cash has shifted the blame onto Northern after talks with arbitration firm ACAS broke down midweek.

He said: “RMT is angry, frustrated and determined to carry on the fight for a safe, secure and accessible railway for all after Northern squandered a golden opportunity to make progress towards a settlement in ACAS talks this week.

“Frankly, it is ludicrous that no thought has been given to funding the so-called “commitments” broadcast by the Department for Transport in relation to this dispute and instead of laying into the union at Prime Ministers Questions Theresa May should be forcing her ministers and the franchise holders to start talking seriously about the actual practicalities at the delivery end of the service.

"It has only been the resilience of RMT members and our supporters from the ‎travelling public, whose solidarity and determination have been instrumental in getting the focus of the dispute back on to the guarantee of a second person on the train. It is deeply disappointing that the company have failed this week to meet the union’s call to move the issues forwards. As a result the action continues as planned. ”

The union claims Northern's plans to remove a conductor or guard from trains would be a serious safety concern for passengers.

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