4 April 2017
RMT Press Office:
RMT reveals growing opposition to Northern Rail plans to end Guard guarantee.
RAIL UNION RMT today released a survey which reveals growing political opposition to Northern Rail plans to end the guard guarantee.
A passenger petition also condemns cuts which will “maximise profit” of German state railways at expense of Northern jobs.
Thirteen Councils in the North have passed motions opposing removing Guards on Northern rail services, a survey by RMT has found.
The councils include Liverpool, Newcastle, Salford and Sheffield and their opposition was described by the union as “highly significant” as Northern councils are jointly responsible for managing the Northern franchise with the Department for Transport.
At the same time over 11,000 people have signed a passengers’ petition calling for the retention of guards and expressing concern that German state railways, who own Northern Rail, will use the cutting of guards to maximise profits at passengers’ expense.
In their official written response to the petition the government has said “This is a matter for Northern Rail.”
RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said:
“The support of a number of Northern councils for allowing passengers to keep their guarantee of a guard on every train is highly significant as these council jointly manage the Northern franchise with government ministers. We now hope that these motions will actually result in concrete action from those councils rail representatives and also that ministers in London will mean what they say when it comes to rail devolution and not impose these cuts on the North.
“We also note with interest that in their response to the petition the government has said that whether passengers keep their guards is a matter for Northern Rail. If that is the case then Northern Rail should have no excuse in agreeing to keep the guarantee of a Guard, that is unless the petition signed by passengers is right and these cuts are really about Northern maximising profits for their German state rail paymasters.”
Notes for editors
The petition to the government is at https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/175682
The new Northern Rail franchise was awarded to Arriva (ultimately owned by German state railway Deutsche Bahn) from 1 April 2016. The new franchise includes a commitment to switch some routes to Driver Only Operation. This would allow trains to be operated with only one member of staff - the driver.
The following councils have passed motions opposing driver only trains in the last 20 months
Liverpool City Council
Sheffield City Council
Durham County Council
Newcastle City Council
Lancaster County Council
City of York
Carlisle City Council
Cumbria County Council
Salford City Council
Hyndburn Borough Council
Gateshead Metropolitan Borough Council