28 June 2016
RMT Press Office:
RMT warns that Office of Road and Rail is funded by Abellio/ScotRail and not an independent voice on Driver Only Operation.
RAIL UNION RMT warned today that the plan to bring the Office of Road and Rail into the Scotrail guards dispute is fraught with conflict as the ORR is funded by the train and rail companies directly through the Government itself.
The Scottish Transport Minister wrote to the ORR yesterday asking for their opinion on DOO but in a letter today RMT has reminded the Scottish Government of who actually pays for the ORR as well as setting out a number of other core issues that the unions believes that they should be seeking information on in relation to the safety critical role of the guard. The RMT letter says:
"Our view is that the advice you will receive from the ORR will be neither independent or impartial. This is for the simple reason that the ORR is an arm of the UK Government whose policy is to support Driver Only Operation and the ORR is also funded by Train Operating Companies who are also pressing for Driver Only Operations.
Not withstanding the above you will know that Conductor operation guarantees passengers that a rail worker, in addition to the driver, will always be on the train to assist passengers including in the event of an incident or accident.
Therefore we would be grateful if you and the ORR can provide passengers with straight answers to the following questions,
1. That here will be no increased risk to passengers in the event of an accident or incident when there is no longer the guaranteed second rail worker on the train to assist.
2.That passengers with disabilities who need assistance boarding or disembarking a train, particularly at unstaffed stations, or passengers who are threatened by anti social behaviour will not be disadvantaged when there is no longer the guarantee of a second rail worker on the train to assist
RMT General Secretary Mick Cash added;
"It's important that we destroy this myth that the ORR is an independent body. They are an arm of the Tory Westminster Government funded by the train companies and rail operators. It is a classic case of "who pays the piper, calls the tune." The Scottish Government need to widen the net in terms of who they take advice from on the safety-critical role of the guard.
"Those issues must include the growing dangers at the platform/train interface from overcrowding, the threats of abuse and assaults and general anti-social behaviour on our trains, disability access and the risks of trap and drag incidents and falls. These issues should not be seen in isolation - the entire package must been seen in the round and not through the distorted eyes of the company-funded ORR.
"RMT will be making all of these points when we lobby the Scottish Parliament at 11.15am this Thursday. The politicians should be listening to their guards who deliver safety and support for passengers at the sharp end and should not be taken in by the voices who are bank-rolled by the train operators who want driver only operation for their own finance-led reasons."