DOO ‘by stealth?’

Rail (UK) - - Open Access - Ju­lian Mori­son, Guild­ford

Paul Clifton states both in print ( RAIL 857) and in his BBC South

To­day broad­casts that trains op­er­at­ing through Bournemouth to Wey­mouth can­not op­er­ate un­der Driver Only Op­er­a­tion (DOO) con­di­tions, as they are not fit­ted with the nec­es­sary equip­ment.

While he is cor­rect that there are no in-cab CCTV mon­i­tors (or body-side cam­eras), De­siro Class 444/450 trains have been equipped with door con­trols on the Driver’s desk since the trains were built in the early 2000s, al­though they have never been ac­ti­vated.

How­ever, both South­ern and pre­vi­ously Gatwick Ex­press op­er­ate a va­ri­ety of DOO/DCO, by util­is­ing sta­tion staff in the train dis­patch pro­ce­dure. Ad­di­tion­ally, other com­pa­nies use CD/RA equip­ment op­er­ated by sta­tion staff and linked to sig­nalling equip­ment to dis­patch trains. While many sta­tions west of Southamp­ton wouldn’t be suit­able, pri­mary sta­tions on the route from Lon­don to Wey­mouth could be af­fected.

While new Class 701 trains be­ing built for metro ser­vices may be the early fo­cus of South Western Rail­way plans, by re­fus­ing to ‘guar­an­tee’ a sec­ond safety-crit­i­cal mem­ber of staff on ev­ery pas­sen­ger ser­vice and re­plac­ing it with terms such as ‘plan’, ‘nor­mally’ or ‘guar­an­tee to ros­ter’, all SWR pas­sen­ger ser­vices are in­volved.

The im­pli­ca­tion may be that the cur­rent dis­pute does not con­cern Guards based at South Coast de­pots. But they are very much in­volved, and they have re­sorted to in­dus­trial ac­tion as a last re­sort to pro­tect the safety and trav­el­ling ex­pe­ri­ence for all pas­sen­gers who wish to travel, and on ev­ery pas­sen­ger train op­er­at­ing.

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