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Rail users face more chaos in dispute

HUNDREDS of thousands of rail users were last night facing fresh travel chaos because of strikes which will hit train services on some of northern England's busiest routes.

HUNDREDS of thousands of rail users were last night facing fresh travel chaos because of strikes which will hit train services on some of the country's busiest routes.

Arriva Trains Northern said a 48-hour walkout by members of the Rail Maritime and Transport union (RMT) would go ahead from midnight after talks aimed at resolving a pay row ended without agreement.

The dispute will effect trains from Liverpool Lime Street on the trans-Pennine link to Newcastle.

Arriva said most of its 1,600 daily services across northern England will be cancelled but added that more trains will run than during a previous strike last month.

The union yesterday escalated action against South West Trains by altering the dates of strikes next week which will extend disruption to four days instead of two.

Arriva said that its offer to raise the basic pay of conductors from £15,500 to £16,760 was "fair".

Talks were held throughout the weekend but ended without agreement.

Buses which have replaced train services since last October will not be hit by the strike.

The union had called a 48-hour walkout against SWT for February 12 and 13 in a longrunning dispute over pay and disciplinary procedures.

But the strikes will now be held from midday on Monday February 11 to noon the following day and again from midday on Wednesday February 13 for 24 hours.

The change will mean that SWT services will be disrupted over four days, causing fresh travel misery for hundreds of thousands of rail users across southern England and into London's Waterloo station.

The union's acting general secretary, Vernon Hince, accused the company of prolonging the dispute.

"Instead of using every endeavour to settle the dispute, South West Trains are wasting time and money training managers and other willing stooges to undertake RMT members' duties."

Andrew Haines, managing director of SWT, said: "This shows new heights of cynical disregard from the RMT to cause maximum disruption to our passengers.

"We will do our very best to minimise any disruption and will run as many services as possible."

SWT ran hundreds of trains during a 48-hour strike last week when managers stood in for strikers.

L SECURITY staff at Manchester Airport have taken to the picket line in protest at plans to axe hundreds of jobs.

More than 150 ground staff, car park and security workers protested outside Terminal One from 6am to 7am yesterday in the first of a series of strikes...SUPL:


David Holmes
Chief News Reporter
David Norbury
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