Hun­dreds sign pe­ti­tion against the move to axe train guards

Southport Visiter - - Front Page - BY JAMIE LOPEZ jamie.lopez@trin­i­tymir­ror.com @jamie_lopez1

APETITION against plans to axe guards on Merseyrail trains has at­tracted more than 800 sig­na­tures.

The pe­ti­tion, aimed at Liver­pool Mayor Joe An­der­son, has been cre­ated af­ter the com­pany an­nounced a £460m plan for new trains which would be op­er­ated only by driv­ers.

The trains would be big­ger and faster, but would have no guards, mean­ing driv­ers are solely responsible for open­ing and clos­ing doors and de­cid­ing when trains should leave.

Sim­i­lar plans around the coun­try have led to in­dus­trial ac­tion, with se­ri­ous fears raised about the safety of the ser­vices.

The pe­ti­tion has been launched by Liver­pool res­i­dent Sean Penny and sim­ply states, ‘Keep guards on the train’.

Rail unions were an­gry at the an­nounce­ment and the RMT has al­ready warned it could lead to in­dus­trial ac­tion.

They say the move could jeop­ar­dise pas­sen­ger safety – a charge de­nied by Mersey­travel, which said driver con­trol is widely and safely used across the UK.

Sig­na­to­ries in­clude Billy Parry, who said: “We can­not keep los­ing jobs like this. Safety must be para­mount. Peo­ple be­fore profit!”

Daren Ire­land said: “Pas­sen­gers need safety crit­i­cal guards on trains.”

And Kate Mann said: “I would not feel safe on trains with­out the abil­ity to call on a guard. I have seen guards help­ing peo­ple and bug­gies on and off. What if some­one is taken ill?”

A row over Driver-Con­trolled Op­er­a­tion (DCO) has sparked strikes across the south of Eng­land which have caused chaos for com­muters over many months.

The RMT and driv­ers’ union ASLEF are bat­tling the in­tro­duc­tion of DCO – also known as Driver Only Op­er­a­tion ( DOO) – across the coun­try.

Re­spond­ing to Mer­sy­travel’s de­ci­sion, the RMT’s gen­eral sec­re­tary Mick Cash said: “Mersey­travel has de­cided that it can’t af­ford to run safe trains with guards, so it in­tends to run un­safe ones. They are ram­ming DOO down our throats.

“RMT has made it clear that we will do what­ever is nec­es­sary to de­fend the safety of our mem­bers and the trav­el­ling pub­lic.

“If Scotrail can in­tro­duce new trains and re­tain guards, then so can Merseyrail.

“We will now be seek­ing as­sur­ances from Merseyrail that it has no in­ten­tion of re­mov­ing safe­ty­trained guards from any of its trains.”

A Mersey­travel spokesper­son said: “DCO means that all op­er­a­tional train func­tions will be man­aged and mon­i­tored by the driver, in­clud­ing the open­ing and clos­ing of train doors. The reg­u­la­tor, The Of­fice for Rail and Road (ORR), con­sid­ers DCO to be a safe method of work­ing and so does the Rail Safety Stan­dards Board (the RSSB).

“Im­por­tantly, DCO is not about re­mov­ing the guards and keep­ing every­thing else the same, but us­ing mod­ern tech­nolo­gies and new pro­cesses to trans­form how the train op­er­ates.

“Many sub­ur­ban ‘com­muter’ net­works and all Metro net­works in the UK are DCO, in­clud­ing Wear Metro and Lon­don Un­der­ground – which has been DCO for 30 years.

“In terms of ‘light rail’ the Manch­ester Metrolink is also DCO. Around 60- 70% of all rail pas­sen­ger jour­neys in the UK are on DCO net­works and it is also used ex­ten­sively across Europe.”

Com­puter gen­er­ated im­age of how a new Merseyrail train will look when it comes into ac­tion in 2020, and, in­set right, Liver­pool Mayor Joe An­der­son

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