Rail group fears passenger losses as industrial dispute rumbles on

The long-running dispute between Arriva Rail North, who run trains as Northern, and the RMT union has resulted in no train operating on the Brigg Line since August, writes Barry Coward of the North Notts & Lincs Community Rail Partnership.

At the moment it appears this situation will persist to the end of the year.

The industrial dispute has seen some services stop running altogether. Photo: Barry Coward

The industrial dispute has seen some services stop running altogether. Photo: Barry Coward

The Saturday strikes have also badly affected the hourly Lincoln to Leeds service, now reduced to three replacement bus trips between Lincoln and Sheffield.

Businesses along these lines also suffer, especially those at stations where rail passengers form a significant element of their trade, such as the station cafe and Mallard pub at Worksop Station.

Each year, trains bring huge numbers of passengers to the Lincoln Christmas Market.

This year it looks as though there will be no service on Saturday December 9 for passengers relying on Northern services.

Instead I would advise folks from Gainsborough to use Stagecoach bus 100.

The dispute centres on the RMT union’s insistence that guards be retained on trains and Northern’s requirement under the terms of its franchise awarded by the Government that it must introduce driver-only operated trains.

Although similar disputes elsewhere have been resolved, there appears to be no prospect on the horizon of a resolution to the dispute at Northern.

Once the dispute is resolved, the North Notts & Lincs Community Rail Partnership will press Northern to launch an aggressive marketing campaign to attract passengers back to the railway.

Northern has recently announced that penalty fares will be charged on the Lincoln to Leeds service for passengers travelling without tickets.

This does not apply at stations like Lea Road where passengers are unable to buy tickets.

However, Northern would like passengers to buy tickets on line and present them to the guard on their mobile phone whenever possible .

Meanwhile, Network Rail has revised its plans for improvements at Lea Road.

Originally work on constructing a new platform two was planed to start last month.

Now the priority appears to focus on platform one by carrying out work on the embankment and building a new access ramp.

It will mean the existing ramp with its pagodas will be demolished.

Work is likely to take place in 2019 and 2020 but, as the station is unstaffed, requests for toilets and ticket vending machines have been declined.