18 February 2021
RMT Press Office:
RMT demands suspension of on-train ticketing duties as survey reveals the operators putting staff at severe COVID risk.
RAIL UNION RMT is today demanding that the Government immediately suspends on-train revenue protection and ticket inspection across all Train Operating Companies, after a survey of RMT on-board staff indicates that 7 out of 17 Train Operating Companies (TOCs) operating through national contracts are putting their staff at increased risk by still requiring them to undertake these non-essential duties in confined spaces such as on board trains, despite the current lockdown, rather than allowing staff to focus on passenger assurance, accessibility and safety.
The survey findings indicate that while 10 Train Operating Companies operating under national contracts, including those managed by the Welsh and Scottish Governments, have suspended on-train revenue protection and ticket inspection during the current lockdown, seven, which are managed by the DfT, are still putting staff at increased risk of coming into contact with Covid-19 by requiring them to undertake on-train revenue protection or ticket inspection duties, even though social distancing cannot be maintained. This is in contrast to the first UK lockdown in 2020, when all on-train revenue protection and ticket inspection was suspended as a safety measure.
The seven Train Operating Companies that the survey indicates are currently requiring staff to undertake on-train revenue protection or ticket inspection duties are: CrossCountry; LNER; Northern; GWR; SWR; Avanti West Coast; C2C.
Of those workers who are still being required to do on-train revenue protection or ticket inspection, nearly 70% believe these duties should be suspended. And shockingly, fewer than 2 in 10 are satisfied with the arrangements their employer has put in place to protect them from Covid-19 risks at work.
Nearly 8 in 10 respondents said they would be prepared to invoke their employer’s ‘worksafe’ procedure if they had Covid-19 safety concerns whilst undertaking on-train revenue protection or ticket inspection duties.
In light of RMT’s serious concerns, General Secretary Mick Cash has written to the Secretary of State, Grant Shapps, to demand the immediate suspension of on-train revenue protection and ticket inspection duties for the duration of the current lockdown whilst also allowing staff to focus on safety, assurance and accessibility.
General Secretary Mick Cash said:
“These survey findings reveal an inconsistent and unsafe approach to on-train revenue protection during the current Covid-19 lockdown. The findings suggest that while the majority of Train Operating Companies have suspended these tasks, a significant minority are putting workers at increased and unnecessary risk by requiring staff to undertake on-train revenue inspection and ticket inspection duties in confined spaces.
“This disparity is particularly inexplicable given the DfT is managing all rail franchises in England via Emergency Recovery Measures Agreements. The DfT needs to ensure, as a matter of urgency, that consistent measures are taken across the railway to protect these key workers.
“I am seeking confirmation from the DfT by no later than Monday 22nd February, that it will immediately ensure that these duties are suspended for the duration of the current lockdown across all Train Operating Companies. If the DfT fails to do this, RMT will have no option but to consider what further action it can take to ensure its members’ safety during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
“As recent passenger research by Transport Focus found, staff play a central role in helping passengers feel safe and secure on the train, and during the current lockdown, staff should be focusing on the core functions of assurance, accessibility and safety, rather than undertaking non-essential tasks that make it virtually impossible to social distance.
“Under no circumstances will RMT allow its members to be put at unnecessary risk of coming into contact with Covid-19 at work.”
Notes for Editors
According to the survey findings the following ten Train Operating Companies are not currently requiring staff to undertake on-train revenue protection or ticket inspection duties: East Midlands Railway; Scotrail; Greater Anglia; West Midlands Railway; Chiltern; Transpennine Express; GTR; Southeastern; Caledonian Sleeper; Transport for Wales.
According to the survey findings the following seven Train Operating Companies are currently requiring staff to undertake on-train revenue protection or ticket inspection duties: CrossCountry; LNER; Northern; GWR; SWR; Avanti West Coast; C2C.
The survey also found the following rail operators, which are not national contracts are also not requiring staff to undertake on-train revenue protection or ticket inspection duties: Merseyrail; London Overground; Grand Central; Hull trains; Eurostar.