Role of the Guard & Extension of DOO – South Western Railway

To all South Western Railway Guards, Commercial Guards and Train Drivers

Our Ref: BR2/0146

18th February 2019


Dear Colleague,

Role of the Guard & Extension of DOO – South Western Railway

In my correspondence of 12th February 2019, I advised you that I had asked South Western Railway to stop being evasive and twisting words to make it sound like they were giving a guarantee of a Guard on every train. Their offer of ‘rostering a member of staff’ did not meet our demands or those of the travelling public who wanted a guard with safety critical responsibilities on every train.

As you know I asked SWR to answer a very simple question which was to give us the same assurance as Arriva Rail North had of ensuring each train operated with a Guard on board.

I, along with the Lead Officer Mick Tosh, your National Executive Committee member Geoff Kite and your Company Council representatives met with management on Friday and following that discussion I am pleased to say management put forward the following proposals:-

“The following terms set out the framework for agreement following discussions between SWR and RMT to maximise the benefit for customers and, the beneficial use of new technology, the company, the union and other relevant stakeholders will seek to agree any appropriate changes to the operational mode, taking account of all safety and risk factors.

The framework is as follows:

1. South Western Railway confirm that on the introduction of any new or other modified rolling stock, each passenger train shall operate with a guard with safety critical competencies. Specific Safety Critical competencies shall be agreed by SWR and RMT.

2. All rolling stock train dispatch shall be subject to undertaking a safety risk assessment, on a station by station basis. This assessment will be completed with the involvement of company and trade union representatives utilising the agreed PTI assessment method already in place in the company, in addition to the utilisation of new technology within new or modified rolling stock.

The above two points within this framework are set out on the basis that ‘nothing is agreed until everything is agreed’.

 Four ballots.
 Four ‘yes’ votes.
 Four thresholds met.
 Four times you stood together and let management know you were not giving up the fight.

It is nothing short of amazing that you and your colleagues defied and defeated the anti-trade union laws and kept giving the union the mandate to continue this principled fight. I have no doubt whatsoever that the travelling public thank you for the stand you have taken as you have had their support from day one. Four ballots, one every six months. We came back to you time and again and you never wavered. This is the most amazing show of solidarity – the whole Trade Union Movement salutes you.

As a result of this breakthrough the National Executive Committee has suspended the strike action called for the 22nd February and the 9th and 16th March and you are instructed to work normally on these days.

There will be further urgent discussions on the nuts and bolts of the agreement and I will keep you advised of developments and will write to you again shortly.

Yours sincerely,


Mick Cash
General Secretary