I’ve given my support to RMT workers who have gone on strike to stop Northern Rail from introducing Driver Only Operations (DOO) and removing guards from our trains. I’m very concerned by Northern Rail’s plans, as train guards play a vital role in supporting and protecting passengers.
Removing guards will make travelling by rail more difficult for disabled passengers who may need help to board and leave trains. 85% of RMT guards say that they have helped passengers with a disability at least once a day and the rail industry has admitted that DOO removes the guarantee of assistance for disabled passengers.
What’s more, crime recorded on British railways has increased by almost a fifth in the last year. There were 2,472 sexual offences last year, up 16%, and 11,711 violent crimes, up by 26%. With violent and sexual crime soaring on the railway, removing staff from trains puts passengers at serious risk.
Meanwhile, the Tory government is failing to hold train companies to account and persisting with a failing private rail system that most of the country opposes.
Providing support to passengers who need it should be a top priority for any rail operator and ensuring that trains are properly staffed is crucial to ensuring that everyone can travel by rail. DOO must be halted immediately so that our railways work for the many, not the few.