12 January 2016
RMT Press Office:
RMT reveals huge public support for Merseyrail guards.
PLANS TO axe Merseyrail guards and introduce driver-only operated trains have been given a massive thumbs-down by nearly 80 per cent of passengers surveyed by the Opinium polling agency.
JOIN THE CAMPAIGN TO SAVE YOUR GUARD The threat by Merseytravel to abolish guards and introduce Driver Only Operated Trains is only part of the wider attack on rail services in the North of England. But the opposition is growing. Write or email to ask Merseytravel to think again and KEEP YOUR TRAINS SAFE.
A poll commissioned by RMT, the guards’ union, reveals that some 78 per cent of weekly Merseyrail users would oppose moves to remove the network’s 200-plus on-board guards and introduce driver-only operation.
Of those surveyed, 98 per cent currently felt safe travelling on the network – but more than two-thirds said they would feel less safe if guards were axed.
That unease was amplified among the over-55s, nearly three-quarters of whom – 74 per cent – would feel less safe without guards on their trains, while a clear majority of young people aged 18 to 34 – 56 per cent – would also feel less safe
The Opinium survey, released as unions launch a campaign to keep guards on new trains planned by Merseytravel, shows that a massive 82 per cent of weekly users would have concerns about the safety of travelling on driver-only trains.
RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said:
“This survey should tell Merseytravel loud and clear that Merseyrail passengers want to a properly trained guard on every train.
“But they should already know that, because their own report last year underlined the importance of passenger security and the role of the guard.
“The councillors who sit on the Merseytravel Committee should heed the views of the people who elected them and ensure that the new trains they order will not be driver-only operated.
“RMT and our sister unions have made it clear that we will not accept the dilution of safety that the removal of guards would mean, and the authority should already be well aware that Merseyside cannot afford to lose more than 200 skilled guards’ jobs.”
Notes to editors:
1. The press conference to launch the union public campaign against the threat to Merseyrail guards will be at 11am on the 12th January 2016 at the RMT North West Regional Office Temple Square, Temple Lane, Liverpool, L2 5BB. Both Mick Cash, RMT General Secretary, and John Tilley, RMT Regional Organiser, will be available for interview on the campaign and the opinion polling.
2. Executive summary of Opinium’s polling:
Currently, almost all (98%) weekly users of MerseyRail trains feel safe whilst travelling on the service, however, if the proposal to remove guards from the service went ahead, two thirds (67%) said that they would feel less safe.
A decrease in safety is particularly evident amongst those aged 55 and over (74%), however, more than half (56%) of younger users (18-34) also said they would feel less safe.
82% are concerned about the safety of travelling on trains that no longer had an on-board train guard and a similar percentage believe MerseyRail should not allow trains to operate without at least one member of staff assisting passengers and protecting their safety (80%).
SUPPORT OR OPPOSE?
The majority of MerseyRail weekly users (78%) would oppose the plans to remove guards from the service so that it became a driver only operation. Slightly more women oppose the plans than men (83% vs 75%) as do older users (80% of those aged 55+ vs 71% of those aged 18-34).
Three quarters (72%) would support ending privatisation and bringing train operating companies back into public ownership in the UK. Of these, 92% would support a campaign by local politicians to bring MerseyRail back into public ownership and operation.