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Last Updated: Friday, 9 December 2005, 08:10 GMT
Protest over train service cuts
Passengers buying tickets
Union leaders say they have the support of passengers
Rail workers were mounting a protest against cuts to train services across the north-east of England.

Members of the RMT union were gathering at Newcastle's Central Station after announced reductions in services between the city and Sunderland.

Train operator Northern Rail is reducing the number of trains between the cities from five to one an hour.

It says the reduction is at the request of Metro operator Nexus, which itself will operate five trains an hour.

The union says it has the support of MPs in the region and passenger groups.

Union general secretary Bob Crow said: "Buses and trams should complement rail services, not replace them."

The stretch of track between Newcastle and Sunderland is shared between Northern Rail and Tyne and Wear Metro operator Nexus.

A spokesman for Northern Rail said the reduction was at the behest of Nexus, which administers funds on behalf of the Tyne and Wear Passenger Transport Authority.

In a statement Nexus said: "This review has allowed for a more frequent service between the two cities."

It added the estimated 4m saving would be spent upgrading Sunderland station.

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