19 September 2014
RMT Press Office
LIVERPOOL CITY Council’s adoption of a hard-line stance against moves to axe conductors from Northern Rail and Trans-Pennine Express services has been welcomed by RMT as a model to be adopted by authorities across the north of England.
A cross-party motion (wording below) adopted by the authority last night (September 17) expressed concern that the government is requiring bidders for the franchises to introduce driver-only operation, and committed the council to working to retain guards and their full safety role.
RMT has been at the forefront of the campaign to expose and defeat moves that would see guards axed, ticket offices closed, stations de-staffed, rail services cut and fares increased on the Northern and TPE franchises.
The union is urging MPs to sign early-day motion 174, which opposes the proposals, and has distributed tens of thousands of postcards to passengers urging them to register their opposition to the plans.
Mick Cash, RMT Acting General Secretary, said:
“We warmly welcome the policy adopted by Liverpool City Council, which echoes the grave concerns that passengers across the north of England have shown when confronted with the stark reality of the government’s assault on rail services, safety and jobs.
“Campaigning from coast to coast and across the Pennines, our members are reporting a groundswell of support from the public, MPs and councillors, and only an all-out and co-ordinated fight can stop the savage assault on rail in the North.”
RMT North West Regional Organiser John Tilley said:
“The stance taken by Liverpool – a key player in the Rail North partnership – is a model for local authorities across the north of England, and we urge them to follow the city’s lead and put maximum pressure on the government to drop these destructive plans.”
“What we are seeing is a ferocious attack on the travelling public and rail workers driven by the notorious McNulty blueprint, and it is a fight we cannot afford to lose.”
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.”