Northern Rail Strike: Three Days of Industrial Action Next Month

Forthcoming Arriva Rail North strike dates, and how they will affect passengers east of the M60 motorway

Following on from previous one-day strikes since the 13 March, the RMT union have announced details of more industrial action next month. Whereas previous strikes have fallen on Mondays and Fridays, the latest dispute will cover three days in July.

Northern rail guards will withdraw their labour for a whole weekend and the following Monday. This will take effect on the 08 July, right up to the 10 July. Services operated by other rail franchises in Northern England (except Merseyrail) will operate as normal throughout the weekend. As with previous strikes since March, these concern safety issues and the imposition of Driver Only Operation.

Merseyrail guards have similar grievances to those suffered by Northern’s guards. They will be going on strike on the 08 July and the 10 July. A third day of industrial action has been pencilled in for the 23 July.

How Northern’s services will be affected by the strike

In the first two one-day strikes, Northern only operated 40% of their usual timetable. Later one-day strikes saw the addition of further journeys, though again with an early finish. As with last time, bus replacement services may be in operation instead of trains. In most cases, expect no Northern trains before 7am and after 7pm.

Furthermore, the 08 July is also the first weekend of closure of the Stalybridge to Miles Platting line. The ‘Old Lanky’ branch line will be closed for engineering works until the 30 July. As a consequence, bus replacement services between Stalybridge and Manchester Victoria station are planned. Huddersfield stopping trains will terminate at Stalybridge. During the strike days, expect to see little or no trains on the truncated route. The bus replacement service (outsourced as usual to a third party) might run as scheduled.

Alternative methods of transport

If your nearest station will have no services over the weekend and on Monday, here’s our list of alternative ways to get to Manchester, Huddersfield and Marple. Please note that season tickets along affected routes may be valid on Metrolink trams and any Arriva bus service (plus Yorkshire Tiger routes).

  • Ashton-under-Lyne: rail season tickets may also be valid on Metrolink services between Ashton and Manchester City Zone stops. Plus, there’s several 216s and 219s (Stagecoach Manchester) to Piccadilly Gardens. If you’re heading towards Stalybridge, First Greater Manchester’s 348 is your most direct route. Stagecoach Manchester’s 236 and 237 services are a good choice too. For Mossley and Greenfield (First Greater Manchester’s 350, 353, and 354 services are worth considering (353 and 354 are operated by MCT Travel on Sunday).
  • Belle Vue: Stagecoach Manchester’s 201, 203, 204, 205, 206 and 207 services continue to Piccadilly Gardens (a Stagecoach Day Rider may be a good option, as well as a good book and a fully charged smartphone). For journeys to Marple, Romiley, and Bredbury, the 203 to Stockport then a 383 or 384 could be a good option. Or you could get a 203 to Reddish North and try for the skeleton service to Marple.
  • Fairfield: Stagecoach Manchester’s regular 219 service is a good alternative. In the morning peak, there are four Manchester-bound journeys of the 221 service from Dukinfield (three in the evening peak in the reverse direction).
  • Gorton: as with Fairfield, the 219 and 221 services are a good shout. Or you could walk a little further in the opposite direction for the 201, 203, 204, 205, 206 and 207 services.
  • Greenfield: the easiest way of getting to Manchester, besides the train, is a 180 or 184 bus straight to Piccadilly Gardens. Alternatively, you could alight at Mumps Bridge and change over to a tram. First Greater Manchester’s 184 service offers an hourly connection with Marsden, Slaithwaite, and the other Colne Valley villages without a station. Travelling to Ashton-under-Lyne and Mossley means First Greater Manchester’s and 350, 353 and 354 services (353 and 354 are operated by MCT Travel on Sunday). The 353 and 354 also call at Stalybridge bus station.
  • Hyde North: for Manchester Piccadilly, you could try the skeleton service from Flowery Field station (supposing the wooden platforms can take the weight of the extra passengers). Alternatively, you could get a 330 to Ashton-under-Lyne and change for a tram, or walk along Johnson Brook Road for the 340 (early evenings and Sunday daytime), 343, or 389 buses to Stalybridge and change for a Transpennine Express service.
  • Hyde Central: Stagecoach Manchester’s 201 service is a viable alternative. You can also catch the 204 (after 7pm), 206 and 207 (peak hours only), though they offer a less direct route than the 201.
  • Marsden: First West Yorkshire and First Greater Manchester have buses every ten minutes to Huddersfield in the daytime. The 184 from Manchester and Oldham is only once hourly.
  • Mossley: there are two ways of getting to Manchester on Monday (though one of them isn’t the 153 route: that was withdrawn in April 2005). You can get the 340 (early evenings and Sunday daytime), 343, 353, or 354 into Stalybridge for Transpennine Express’ journeys. Or you could take the 350, 353, or 354 into Ashton-under-Lyne for a tram. Travelling to West Yorkshire is more finicky: you need to get a 350, 353, or 354 to Uppermill for the 184 service to Huddersfield (plus Marsden and Slaithwaite).
  • Slaithwaite: a few miles east on the A62, Slaithwaite benefits from the same high frequency corridor of buses as Marsden.
  • Strines: your next nearest station is Marple, where Northern’s skeleton service will start from. A taxi or short drive may be needed, especially as the 358 bus stops some distance away from Marple station.
  • Woodley: try Stagecoach Manchester’s 330 service to Bredbury station for the skeleton service into Manchester Piccadilly. As the 389 bus hasn’t served Woodley since April 2009, a journey to Romiley or Marple may be best done on foot along the Peak Forest Canal.

Before You Go…

Allow extra time for your journey. In other words, keep your digital devices fully charged (that free WiFi access will come in handy), take a good book with you as well. On the skeleton services, expect them to be busier than usual. Likewise with the trams and the buses, though Metrolink may be providing reinforcements on Monday (more trams and/or longer trams).

If you’re doing the Rail Ale Trail, this is off limits (unless you can work it around bus routes and TPE services). Expect gross overcrowding on Transpennine Express not only due to the extra passenger loads, but also for the Durham Miners’ Gala on the 08 July.

Useful References and Resources

For further updates on the strike, Northern’s website and Twitter feed will stand you in good stead for Monday.

In Brief:

  • Industrial Action is about the safety issues of DOO (Driver Only Operation), involving the RMT union with Arriva Rail North, Southern, and Merseyrail guards and drivers;
  • Normal service on First Transpennine Express, Virgin, Arriva Trains Wales, East Midlands Trains, and London Midland routes;
  • Limited service on Northern routes, with some areas having no service at all (where alternative modes may exist);
  • Normal service with extra trams and/or longer trams on Metrolink services;
  • Season tickets may be valid on Metrolink trams and Arriva Bus bus routes (including Yorkshire Tiger services).

S.V., 22 June 2017.

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