A METRO strike that will disrupt two rock gigs in the region is to go ahead after talks to resolve a pay dispute broke down after five hours.

Bosses of the North-East rail network met union leaders yesterday to discuss the proposed action, but were unable to resolve the issue.

The first strike is expected to disrupt the travel plans of thousands of music fans travelling to the Stadium of Light, in Sunderland, on Thursday, for the Coldplay concert.

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Sharon Kelly, director of customer services at DB Region Tyne and Wear, which operates the network, said: “We are incredibly disappointed that following five hours of talks and despite making a significantly enhanced offer, which we made to avoid industrial action, the unions have failed to accept this, and are continuing to plan to strike.”

The strike was initially threatened over a belowinflation pay rise offer of 1.3 per cent for Metro staff.

DBRTW yesterday made a revised offer of just over three per cent for a third of staff, who are lower paid, and just over two per cent to those on higher wages.

Trade unions, Aslef, RMT and Unite, who, it is understood were holding out for a 3.5 per cent rise across the board, have rejected the offer and it looks certain that action will close the network.

Thousands more rock fans heading to the region on June 21, when US superstar Bruce Springsteen plays the city, will be disrupted by a second strike.

Bernard Garner, director general of Nexus, which owns Metro, said: “The decision by the trade unions to press ahead with this strike is bad for the local economy and the image of the region on a day when we are welcoming thousands of visitors to the North- East. We continue to urge both sides to seek a resolution.”

There are plans to run 56 buses after the Coldplay concert to Newcastle and the Heworth Interchange, at Gateshead.

Rock fans and commuters travelling to and from work between Sunderland and Newcastle are being urged to make alternative travel arrangements.

Chris Proctor, from Aslef, said: “The unions want to secure an agreement that means wages are going to keep with inflation and have not been able to secure that. If we agree that now it means there is a long term agreement, which none of the unions was prepared to accept.”

For information about contingency travel arrangements, go to nexus.org.uk