2 March 2017
RMT Press Office:
THE SAFE evacuation of hundreds of passengers trapped for hours on trains in tunnels outside Liverpool Lime Street station on Tuesday (Feb 28) underlines the importance of a safety-trained guard on every train, Britain’s biggest rail union says today.
As details of the seriousness of Tuesday’s wall collapse began to emerge, RMT paid tribute to the “magnificent” response of railway staff and emergency services – and warned of the potentially lethal consequences if the trains involved had not had qualified guards aboard.
The union understands that at least one train was seconds away from colliding with the collapse and that the damage caused to the four lines affected is so severe that they could be out of action for a month.
Both Arriva Rail North (ARN) services caught up in the collapse had conductors aboard, trained in dealing with emergencies and evacuations, leaving their drivers free to deal with communications with control.
RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said:
“The precise cause of Tuesday’s collapse is yet to emerge, but it is clear that the response of railway staff and emergency services was magnificent and that we are very lucky indeed that this was not a major disaster.
“But let us also be crystal clear: if ARN’s plans to extend driver-only operation had already been in place, the two Northern services involved would not have had guards aboard, with potentially disastrous consequences.
“Without guards to keep passengers calm and lead safe evacuations we would have had the potentially lethal prospect of passengers de-training themselves in cold, dark tunnels and stumbling towards tons of debris and damaged 25,000-volt overhead power lines.
“This is yet another graphic illustration of why attempts to impose or extend driver-only operation amount to a fundamental attack on safety for passengers and rail workers alike, and why RMT will use every means available to us to resist them.”