7 November 2017
RMT Press Office:
Former Merseytravel boss calls for rethink of plans to get rid of Guards as new police freedom of information figures reveal over 1200 crimes on Merseyrail trains in last five years.
Former Merseytravel boss Mark Dowd OBE has called for a rethink of the plan to remove guards from Merseyrail.
In a letter to the union journal RMT News Mr Dowd highlighted concerns about a doubling of sexual assaults on the railway in the last five years and says:
“The real question that needs answering is how is culling guards from trains, such as that planned by Merseyrail going to prevent such offences. What happens when a passenger in distress for whatever reason, especially women and children, on a driver only operated eight coach train needs help?
Surely common sense should prevail and the people who made this decision should think again and support the guards in their quest to keep the travelling public safe on our rail system on Merseyside. If it is not broken, why fix it?”
The call came as new figures obtained under a Freedom of Information request submitted by RMT has found that in the last five years there were over 1200 on train crimes on Merseyrail. The figures also show that almost 900 or 72% of crimes were before 8pm, the time from when Merseyrail have indicated they will still seek to keep a second (non-safety critical) person on the train.
RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said:
“Even Merseyrail have conceded because of the crime threat they will have to try and have a second person on the train. Instead of guaranteeing all services the current level of protection provided by safety critical guards, in future there will only be a far less skilled second person from 8pm onwards, and even then no absolute requirement they have to be on the train.
“Now we have learnt from the British Transport Police that there were 1200 crimes on Merseyrail in the last five years. Of course crimes rates would be much higher if it was not for our guards who deter criminal behaviour. What is deeply worrying is that almost 900 – or 72.% – of these crimes were committed before 8pm making a nonsense of Merseyrail’s plans only to provide protection after that time.
“These figures show Merseyrails’ plans mean that before 8pm thieves and predators will have a free rein on our trains. That is why Mark Dowd – as ex chair of Merseytravel – is absolutely right to call for a rethink that keeps our guards. The Mayor Steve Rotheram should take note and call him in for a chat.”
Notes for editors
Merseyrail crime figures attached.