Strikes on Northern rail have been suspended after a “major breakthrough” in a long-running dispute over plans to axe guards on trains, a union said.
Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) have taken 47 days of industrial action and were due to walk out on the next two Saturdays.
Passengers have faced huge disruption since the dispute began two years ago.
The RMT said the company had now offered a guarantee of a conductor on all trains. The union claimed imposing driver-only services was a risk to public safety.
The breakthrough will come as a relief to Northern’s passengers, whose train services have been cut most Saturdays since last summer by strikes.
Two more strikes were due on Saturday 9th and Saturday 16th February, with further dates expected to be announced. However, Northern said the decision had come too late to revert to normal service this Saturday, and there would still be disruption with services stopping by 5pm.
Talks will continue to discuss the exact role of the second staff member on every train.
David Brown, the managing director of Northern, welcomed the decision and said: “We have been very clear in these discussions that there will be a conductor on all our trains now and into the future. We are looking forward to further positive talks with RMT about operational models so that we can resolve their dispute and bring it to an end.”
The RMT general secretary, Mick Cash, paid tribute to the “resilience and determination” of union members, and thanked the mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, and the Liverpool city region mayor, Steve Rotheram, for helping break the deadlock. He added: “I also want to thank the travelling public for their extraordinary support.”