Rail workers were said to be “solidly supporting” another strike on Saturday in the long-running dispute over guards on trains.
Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union on Arriva Rail North (Northern) walked out for the 46th time since the row flared.
Picket lines were mounted outside stations across the region and services were disrupted, with few trains running after 5pm.
The union claimed that Northern’s managing director, David Brown, has told staff that, because of the “franchise requirement” set by the Government, there will be Northern trains in the future that will run without a second person, contradicting the company’s recent public statements.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “Only last week the Arriva Rail North managing director was telling MPs a second person, in addition to the driver, would be retained on Northern services.
“Now he has let the cat out of the bag and told staff that, in future, not only will passengers lose the protection of a safety critical conductor, they will also have to travel without the protection of any second person at all.”
Mr Brown said: “More than 50% of all rail journeys in the UK are made on driver-controlled trains and recently the Department for Transport and Transport for the North publicly confirmed that a second person, in addition to the driver, would be retained on Northern services.
“This second person will provide customer service, including meeting customer needs on accessibility, safety, security, ticketing and information.
“Therefore, there is no reason for the RMT to continue its disruptive and economically damaging strikes but, despite this, the RMT continues with its strike action.
“We expect all of our service on Saturdays in January to be extremely busy and are calling on our customers to plan their travel carefully for the coming weekend, check the new timetables well in advance, and make sure they do not rely on the last trains home.”