Many UNISON West Sussex members will be experiencing a dreadful ongoing service from privateer rail firm Southern Railway. At the heart of this atrocious service is a dispute about how the service should be run: in the interests of passengers, or for short-term profit extraction.
The railway workers’ union – the RMT – has asked UNISON West Sussex members to contact your MP to express your concerns about Govia’s intention to expand the use of driver-operated only (DOO) trains.
Govia plans to abolish guards/conductors and introduce DOO trains. This means only the driver is able to be responsible for passenger safety and security.
Currently, both the driver and guard are trained to manage trains. This is especially important if there are emergencies such as derailments, fires or unexpected passenger illness.
The guard’s role includes providing help and advice for disabled, vulnerable and elderly passengers. Guards are also the first point of contact to deal with on-board passenger accidents, antisocial behaviour, issuing tickets and train evacuations. They can quickly call for help from other railway staff and emergency services.
Train operating companies such as Govia (who run Southern Railway), say that advances in technology mean DOO trains are safe and have worked elsewhere. However, the real reason is to create greater profit by getting rid of guards. This is at the expense of passenger safety and security.
It’s known that in some incidents, such as collisions on the line, drivers can be incapacitated. The guard is trained to take control of such situations and make sure passengers are not put at unnecessary risk. This could involve making sure trains on the oncoming track are warned in advance, or isolating the ‘third rail’ that supplies electricity to the train.
Leaders of the railway workers’ union (RMT) have challenged Govia’s plans to increase the number of DOO trains. Govia claims they will improve services and passenger satisfaction.
The RMT believes Govia’s actions are driven purely by profit and will cause further detriment to customer service.
Please support the RMT’s campaign by writing to your local MP here.