1 February 2017
RMT Press Office:
A TRAIN guard’s calm and professional actions in the aftermath of a serious sexual assault aboard a Trans-Pennine Express service last month underlines the importance of a guard on every train, Britain’s biggest rail union says today.
News of the January 6 assault – with striking similarities to an incident on Merseyrail a month before – emerged as RMT entered crunch talks with Merseyrail bosses today to head off the threatened removal of all guards on the franchise’s services.
The victim of the January 6 attack has praised the “unbelievably kind and compassionate manner” in which the guard assisted her in the wake of the attack – and said she did not know what would have happened had there not been a guard on the train.
The guard on the TPE evening service between Manchester Airport and York was able to calm the passenger and gently guide her in making a complaint to police who, on reviewing the CCTV footage, have launched a criminal investigation into a serious sexual assault.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said:
“This latest awful incident has come to light to the very day that our reps have gone into crunch talks with Merseyrail bosses who want to remove all guards from their trains – despite creaming off an average of £10 million in dividends for their shareholders every year.
“Once again a safety-trained guard has come to the assistance of a passenger in highly distressing circumstances, and it beggars belief that anyone could suggest that trains without guards are anything other than a huge step backwards.
“Fortunately assaults like this are rare, but we know that passengers feel safer with a visible, uniformed guard on board their train, not least women travelling alone at night.
“That alone should make a guard essential on every train, but they are also there to take charge and help passengers to safety in the event of an emergency like a fire or derailment, and to ensure that passengers get on and off trains safely.
“RMT has drawn a line in the sand over the removal of guards from trains and will not accept any extension of driver-only operation – and that is the message our reps have taken to Merseyrail today.”