THE RMT rail union is to go ahead with three more days of strike action next week on Northern Rail after last ditch talks aimed at brokering a solution to the guards’ safety dispute failed.

The union said it had entered talks in good faith and had been seeking an agreement which guaranteed a guard on trains and protected the safety of the public.

It had been seeking a similar deal to that struck with train operators in Scotland and Wales to retain the role of the guard.

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Northern, which is operated by Arriva, is moving towards a model of driver only trains as part of a modernisation of its network.

The RMT claims this will mean half of its trains will run without a second “safety critical” member of staff on board.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “Our members are angry and frustrated that yet again a genuine opportunity to make progress in talks has been kicked into touch by the pig-headed and intransigent attitude of Arriva Rail North.

“As a result the action goes ahead in defence of rail safety, access and security.

“The public will understand that we are fighting in the interests of rail passengers across the region.”

Strike action will now take place as planned on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

The company said it will run about1,350 services on strike days, more than half its normal timetable, with most running between 7am and 7pm.

Replacement bus services will operate on some routes where trains aren’t running.

Richard Allan, Arriva Rail North’s deputy managing director, said: “During talks, Northern again offered to guarantee jobs and pay for conductors for the rest of our franchise to 2025 if we can reach agreement with RMT.

“The Government has also recently written to the union, guaranteeing employment for conductors beyond 2025 if RMT ends its dispute.

“Northern has asked RMT to hold a fresh ballot of conductors to give them a voice, ten months after RMT started its strike action.

“Conductors at other train companies will get a fresh vote every six months because RMT’s disputes at those companies started under new legislation.

“Northern will be concentrating on running as many services as possible for customers on the next RMT strike days.”