NORTHERN passengers could face new penalty charges to encourage travellers to buy tickets before they get on the trains.

The beleaguered firm announced the measure on a weekend when staff were out on strike yet again over manning of trains and safety concerns.

The new charges will mean that passengers travelling without a ticket could face a £20 penalty.

But they won't come into force on the Furness Line until ticket machines are upgraded.

Robert Parker, of the Furness Line Action Group said: "The recent charges won't affect the Furness Line yet, as they are many stations that do not have ticket vending machines - the only ones currently installed are at Dalton, Arnside and Silverdale.

"However, Northern are intending to install more ticket vending machines by the end of the year.

"Following this there will be a three-month grace period and then the penalties will apply to the Furness Line."

When asked about whether the penalties were necessary, Mr Parker acknowledged that revenue is key to keeping the trains going and therefore it is necessary to have these new charges in place.

However, with more strike action today and in the following weeks staffing of the trains and safety has become a serious problem to many.

Mr Parker said: "The strikes are related to two concerns by train union members.

"Firstly, they are concerned that Northern are trying to get rid of the second person staffing the train.

"Secondly, they deem many of the trains and policies are unsafe."

The issue of a second person staffing the trains was also one of the key concerns of many who attended the latest Cumbria Better Connected Group held in Ulverston on October 12.

Mr Parker said: "They currently have the policy whereby a train can run with only one person staffing it.

"This is deeply concerning for elderly and disabled passengers as they may be noone to provide any assistance for them to safely board the trains.

"Members of the The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers also see this policy as an attempt to get rid of staff."

Craig Harrop, Northern director said: "We are still open to talks and we haven’t said we will be getting rid of the second person."

"Our main aim is to guarantee jobs and we are considering all potential options and communicating these with the RMT."

Mr Parker said that it is likely that the strikes will carry on until at least the end of November, maybe even longer.