Our Ref BR2/14/5

3rd August 2017


Dear Colleagues,


Following a resolution from our Andover Rail Branch, we raised a number of serious safety issues which we believed were not being addressed by South West Trains. In particular we have grave concerns over the summer fare promotions for rail travel tickets which has resulted in severe over-crowding on services. This overcrowding has reach such a level that we believe it is becoming a health and safety risk to members and the travelling public.

A reply has been received from the company which has been considered by the NEC. The NEC has noted that South West Trains are in the last weeks of their franchise and we will be taking this matter up directly with First Group /MTR at the earliest opportunity to ascertain their processes in this regard.

In addition the NEC has instructed me to send members a copy of the response from management so that you know where you stand if you feel the train is not safe to leave the station. The full text of the letter is as follows with the most important section highlighted:-

Letter from South West Trains dated 5th July 2017

“I am in receipt of your letter dated 27th June 2017 and have had an opportunity to consider the concerns you raise. Many of these concerns we are already familiar with following ongoing conversations with our Guards Company Council. These discussions have significantly influenced how we manage these promotions in recent years, and have contributed considerably to the constant improvements we have made to the process in delivering promotions.

Promotions are designed through a joined up approach involving our operational planners, and those monitoring ticket sales, who work with the fleet teams to strengthen services where necessary. This also enables us to identify to both the Control Centre and our Traincrew, which services are likely to be busiest. Part of this process involves identification of special events on our network, such as those mentioned in your letter. Depending on the nature of the special event, tickets can be suspended or services strengthened and we have done both of these for various promotions. We suspended the Summer promotional ticket for the Summer Solstice and Glastonbury events on capacity grounds, with a dedicated capacity-lead product instead being available to passengers travelling to and from these events.

In line with our method of passenger train operation, the Guard is the responsible person in charge of the train. They must satisfy themselves at all times that the train is safe to work, in line with their training. Any decision on refusing to work a train on the grounds of safety must be taken in the Guards professional opinion and our Guards are trained to consider the knock on impact of that decision on the safety of the rest of the network.

A Guard will not be held responsible for a safety incident providing they have followed the Guards instructions at all times. Any error or violation will be managed in line with the agreed procedures and Guards Support Program.

I would like to take this opportunity to place on record my thanks to our Traincrew for their hard work and support when we have run these promotions. It may be of interest to you that there are no more promotional offers planned for the remainder of the current franchise, running until 19th August 2017.”

As outlined above, we are raising this important matter with First Group/MTR as the new franchise operator and members will be kept fully informed of developments.

Yours sincerely

Mick Cash
General Secretary