Ending the guarantee of guards on trains will increase crime and anti-social behaviour, a union has warned as part of strike action today over plans for driver-only services.
Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union at Arriva Rail North have staged a 24 hour walk out today for the third time in recent weeks in protest at staffing plans for new trains due to come into service in 2020.
Services across South Yorkshire are affected on a day when the rail network is expected to be busy before the bank holiday weekend and on the first day of the Tour de Yorkshire cycle event.
But Arriva said it expects to run more than 40 per cent of its normal timetable today, with more than 300 additional rail replacement buses.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: "Removing staff from trains, which will travel through over 300 unstaffed stations, is a toxic combination that will increase anti-social behaviour and unleash a surge in crime which will see Northern rail becoming a muggers' paradise.
"The public are right to be concerned and that is why they are backing RMT's fight for the guarantee of a guard on Northern trains.
"The fact that 60 per cent of stations are already unstaffed means that removing the guarantee that currently exists of a guard on every train will mean disabled passengers are simply no longer able to turn up and go at unstaffed stations. That is nothing short of a scandal.
"Instead of ploughing on with their dangerous and discriminatory plans, Arriva Rail North should be calling a halt and negotiating a settlement."
Richard Allan, Northern's deputy managing director, said: "Our strong focus is on working with colleagues and customers to deliver a modern, local, railway for the North that will maintain high safety standards, deliver better journeys and improve customer service.
"Our proposals, which we want to discuss further with RMT, will see staff more visible and available than ever before on trains and on stations.
"Any changes to Northern's services are always fully risk assessed, consulted upon, and approved in accordance with relevant health and safety legislation."