I welcome news that the RMT has suspended its Northern Rail strike after the rail company guaranteed that a conductor will remain on all of its trains for the duration of its current franchise.
I fully supported the RMT campaign to stop Northern Rail from introducing Driver Only Operations (DOO) on our trains as train guards play a vital role in supporting and protecting passengers.
In particular, removing guards would have made 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, knife crime on the rail network has more than tripled in the past three years, with British Transport Police recording 1,059 offences involving a knife or blade last year, up from 338 in 2015. With crime soaring on the railway, removing guards from trains would have put all passengers at serious risk.
Providing support to passengers who need it should be a top priority for all rail operators and ensuring that trains are properly staffed is crucial to ensuring that everyone can travel by rail safely.
I’m glad that, after two years deadlock, Northern Rail has now agreed to put passenger safety first and has abandoned its DOO plans. I’ve been visiting the RMT picket to show my support for the campaign and was going to do so again on Saturday, but that wasn’t necessary in the end as the union had already won! Congratulations to the RMT and well done to everyone who supported this important campaign.