Our Ref: BR2/0146
28th November 2018
TO ALL ARRIVA RAIL NORTH CONDUCTOR, CONDUCTOR INSTRUCTOR & TRAIN DRIVER MEMBERS
ROLE OF THE GUARD & EXTENSION OF DOO – ARRIVA RAIL NORTH
I am writing to advise you that Transport for the North the body that jointly overseas the Northern Franchise with the Government have issued a statement in respect of the dispute with Arriva Rail North including the following,
“Transport for the North does not support removing the second person from trains, particularly when a significant proportion of rail stations in the North of England are classed as inaccessible for disabled passengers.
Transport for the North notes that the normal course of events would be for Northern to reach agreement with the RMT, as has been the case in other parts of the country, and to then seek approval for such an agreement through the Rail North Partnership if any amendments were required to contract terms. Transport for the North wishes to clarify that it would be willing to consider all options that would facilitate such an agreement.”
The Rail Minister Andrew Jones has also written to the Rail North Partnership (the name for the joint Transport for North/ Government body that overseas the Northern Rail Franchise) stating,
“I therefore welcome TfN's decision to recognise that the preference of passengers is for a second person on board trains, rather than additional staffing on the stations as TfN and DFT agreed would be in the contract. Across the UK, the Government has always said it expects to see more not fewer people working on the railway in the years to come and the North is no exception. I would like to assure you that the Government is ready and willing to play its part in funding the costs of having a second person on board, and looks forward to working with TfN in putting together a funding proposal. I am clear that the contract is not a blocker to this.”
The Minister’s letter also states,
“The Government also agrees with TfN that evolution of the role of the second person is essential to deliver performance and customer service benefits so desperately needed. Evolving the role of the second person to be focused on the passengers will help deliver the punctuality and performance improvements that are urgently required, particularly in urban areas, through bringing in a method of operation used around the world on busy networks. Passengers will also be able to take more reassurance from giving the second person greater freedom to be visible and to move around the train. I trust that with this confirmation of Government support to enable a second person to be retained on board trains progress will be made in resolving this industrial dispute.”
The statements are seemingly designed to encourage talks but it is clear that your union is always available for talks. Your union has also issued the following statement in response to the above. “In light of the statement RMT awaits any new proposals from Northern which maintains for the travelling public the same level of safety, security and access that they enjoy at the moment based on the guarantee of the guard on every train.” RMT remains available for talks.”
Let me be absolutely clear that there are not as of yet any new proposals from Arriva Rail North and our position remains that there must be a safety critical guard on all trains. I will keep you advised of any developments.