STRIKE action on Northern trains has been suspended after “substantial progress” in talks between the operator and the RMT union.

The strike action, running over two years, has been part of a long-running dispute between the rail union and Northern over the role of guards on trains.

Arriva Rail North, which runs Northern, were due to stage strikes on first three Saturdays of February.

But on Wednesday the RMT said that progress made in talks through the offices of ACAS had allowed the union’s executive to suspend the on-going programme of strike action on Northern Rail.

The RMT said Northern had now offered a guarantee of a conductor on all trains, including the new fleet, for the duration of the current franchise.

The guarantee is supported by the Department for Transport.

RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said: “Today’s offer of a guarantee of a conductor on all services throughout the duration of the franchise, including the new fleet, is the substantial progress we have been pushing for and has allowed RMT’s executive to take the decision to suspend the current action and allow for further talks to now take place with all stakeholders around the operational details.”

David Brown, managing director at Northern said: “We warmly welcome RMT’s decision to suspend its strike action and recommence talks about what the future role of the conductor looks like.

"We have been very clear in these discussions that there will be a conductor on all our trains now and into the future. We are looking forward to further positive talks with RMT about operational models moving ahead so that we can resolve their despute and bring it to an end.”

Northern said it would be too late to reintroduce a full timetable in time for Saturday, February 9 and customers were being advised to check before they travel. From Saturday, February 16, Northern said it would be running a full Saturday timetable.