The Anonymous Widower

Laura Kuenssberg On The Southern Rail Dispute

This article on the BBC by Laura Kuenssberg is entitled The politics behind the Southern rail dispute.

It is a must-read for everyone who uses trains to get to and from work or for important journeys.

This is said.

One former senior minister tells me that “successive secretaries of state” in charge at Transport have wanted to “get rid of guards on trains”. The ambition is to bring down the cost of rail travel for the tax payer and the train passenger.

With that considered to be a long term ambition, it’s no surprise that the RMT, the only union that represents guards, wants to fight this every step of the way. Union sources deny it, but it’s suggested that they have dug in in this dispute, because if they lose it, they also lose a big chunk of their industrial muscle.

If there have to be guards on trains, a strike works if they walk out. If services can run with drivers on their own, their power to disrupt would be reduced. It’s worth noting that the RMT has more than 80,000 members, nearly ten times as many as the drivers’ union, ASLEF. It’s ASLEF that has agreed to meet Southern for talks tomorrow.

So like it or not the traditional guard is going the way of the dinosaurs.

Can rail passengers and  hard-pressed tax-payers afford to pay for a vanity job, which if abolished would result in no loss of employment, but as Laura points out, a considerable loss of industrial muscle.

It is interesting to look at the future in the shape of Merseyrail’s new trains, that I wrote about in Thoughts On Merseyrail’s New Trains.

  • The trains will be designed to fit the platforms for step-free entry and exit for all passengers.
  • The trains will be designed for as high a level of passenger safety as possible.
  • The trains will have a high degree of automation.
  • Automatic Train Operation may be implemented in the Loop Line under Liverpool.

The trains will be designed for Driver Only Operation. This article on the BBC, which is entitled Merseyrail driver-only trains: RMT sets guards decision deadline.

This is said.

A train operator has two weeks to give “cast-iron” assurances that guards will be retained or risk dispute, rail union RMT has said.

I have a feeling that Merseyrail have been cunning here and that as it is three years before the trains run, natural wastage and other factors, will mean that the second men and women on the trains by 2020, will be running under new contracts.

Liverpudlians like a good fight and I have a feeling that in this dispute the RMT and its guards will be severely outnumbered.

January 20, 2017 - Posted by | Travel | , , , ,

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