Sigh of relief from Lancashire businesses as trains dispute is called off

Northern has been in dispute with the RMT union
Northern has been in dispute with the RMT union
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Business and retail chiefs have welcomed the calling off of a long-running dispute which has crippled Lancashire’s weekend rail services.

The union RMT has halted weekly strike action against train operator Northern in a dispute over the role of guards on trains.

A full service will resume this Saturday for the first time in months.

The North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, MPs and others had pleaded with the RMT and Northern to make a deal.

Alan Welsh, policy manager of the Chamber, said: “We welcome the news that progress has been made in this protracted dispute and hope that further talks are concluded quickly and to everybody’s satisfaction.

“Businesses and passengers will relieved but also angry that this wasn’t sorted out much sooner.

“The Chamber of Commerce has lobbied the government quite strongly in recent months and we are grateful that the Department for Transport has listened and will be supporting Northern on its offer to guarantee a conductor on all trains, including the new fleet.

Mark Whittle, manager of Preston Business Improvement District said: “Our city centre attracts thousands of visitors a year, and we rely on an efficient and effective transport network to enable shoppers to visit the city.

“Over recent months, although the city centre has continued to perform well, the lack of train services has been noticeable. We very much look forward to welcoming visitors back from out of town”.

Andrew Stringer, chairman of the city’s retail forum said: “Preston is a destination that offers a fantastic experience 7 days a week and the transport links to the city play a key part.

“The resumption of a standard rail timetable will allow visitors to travel more easily, to enjoy a day out shopping, dining and socialising.”