12 September 2014
RMT Press Office - Photo © Jess Hurd/RMT
RAIL UNION RMT today welcomed confirmation that councillors in Liverpool will discuss a hard-hitting motion next week that sets out a clear policy of opposition to moves to axe conductors from services on Northern and Trans-Pennine Express services under the terms of the new franchises currently under discussion by the Government and their favoured private operators.
The motion, which will go before the Liverpool City Council on Wednesday 17th September, is clear evidence that RMT’s fight against the carve-up of rail jobs and services across the north is picking up significant support from MP’s, Councillors and from the traveling public who face the prospect of paying more to travel on dangerous, reduced and under-staffed trains.
The Liverpool City Council motion says:
“Council notes with concern that in the consultation document for the refranchising of Northern Rail and TPE includes a requirement for bidders to outline how they will remove the safety critical role of the guard from their services, i.e.:
“On the Northern franchise, we expect to require bidders to set out how DOO (Driver-Only-Operation) may be introduced onto suitable services. On TPE, this will be left at bidders' discretion.”
Council is extremely concerned about the potential impact such a retrograde move would have on travellers to and from Liverpool and across the region in general. Passenger Focus research demonstrates that passengers perception of safety and security is greatly enhanced by the presence of conductors ontrains in.
Conductors provide an invaluable service to passengers providing:
• Revenue Protection duties, ensuring all passengers have a valid ticket for travel and selling tickets to those without them. This is vital to deal with high levels of ticketless travel currently occurring on the Northern network.
• A vital customer service role including, travel information in relation to connections etc. for onward journeys; and very importantly -assist passengers with mobility issues to board and alight trains comfortably and safely.
• Dealing with issues of anti-social behaviour and reacting to safety and operational incidents.
Council therefore instructs the Chief Executive to write to the LEP, all Merseyside MP’s and the Chief Executive and Chair of Merseytravel to oppose the proposal to remove on-board conductors and contact the DfT and relevant Government Minister to ensure on-board conductors are retained within the service specification.”
RMT is currently engaged in the latest phase of the campaign against the Northern/TPE plans, distributing a new postcard, following on from the 10,000 cards collected against the plans set out in the franchise consultation, with the public urged to pressure MP’s to sign EDM 174, opposing the Northern and Trans-Pennine Express proposals, and calling for Councillors and Local Authorities to register their opposition. That campaign is picking up growing support by the day.
Mick Cash, RMT Acting General Secretary, said:
“RMT welcomes the fact that Liverpool City Council will be debating the real impact on jobs, safety and service of the proposed new Northern and Trans-Pennine Express franchises. We expect other Council’s across the wide geographical area affected by these plans to now follow suit.
“Let’s not forget that the core of the Government’s future plans for Northern and TPE is to axe jobs, throw the guards off the trains and jack up fares while capacity to meet surging rail demand in the area is left to stagnate. That attack on the fare-paying public has already begun and only an all-out and coordinated fight can stop the savage assault on rail in the North.
“RMT has launched the next phase of the fight to both inform the public and fight the savage cuts being lined up for these Northern rail franchises and to get MP’s signed up to EDM 174 opposing this carve-up. It is absolutely essential now that we keep up the pressure.”