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Weekly Edition - Publication date:- 2016-12-16

-en Southport & Mersey Reporter

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Guard's calm intervention after sex attack underlines need to scrap driver only plans

THE calm and decisive action of a safety trained Merseyrail guard in facing down a sex attacker and protecting the woman passenger he had assaulted and tried to rob underlines the "sheer, reckless stupidity" of plans to scrap guards, the network's biggest union says.

As Merseytravel Councillors prepare to vote, on Friday, 16 December 2016, on plans that could see all guards removed from Merseyrail and the introduction of driver only trains, RMT demanded that Councillors respect the huge weight of public opinion to retain guards.

The incident, on 6 December 2016, in which a Northern Line guard led the assault victim; a woman travelling alone at night; to the safety of his cab, alerted police and ensured that she was able to get home safely, illustrates exactly why we need guards, the union says

RMT has, for the 3rd time, written to Merseytravel chair Liam Robinson seeking answers to key safety questions including what would happen in an emergency such as a fire or derailment in the network's single bore tunnels if the driver was incapacitated.

The union also points to the incident, on 25 August 2016, in which a Merseyrail guard isolated the electric rail and evacuated passengers to safety after a car collided with a train at Crescent Road level crossing in Southport, while the driver remained in his cab suffering from concussion.

RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said:- "Merseytravel and Merseyrail have so far simply ignored the crucial safety questions we have raised about the threat of driver only operation. Wherever DOO has been introduced there has been a significant increase in incidents involving passengers being caught in doors or falling under trains, and we, alongside our colleagues in Aslef, are not prepared to risk any extension of this fundamentally dangerous mode of operation. The serious incidents on Merseyrail in the last few months alone should make it clear that fully safety trained guards are an essential and indispensable part of train crew, and that Merseytravel must find a way of financing new trains that does not compromise safety. We know that the travelling public wants to see guards retained; and so does Merseytravel, because its own survey made that quite clear. We have asked Merseytravel to ensure that any new trains are designed to have a second safety critical crew member aboard, and we have asked Merseyrail, our members' employer, to assure us that guards will be retained on all its services. The bottom line is that we will not hesitate to defend our members' jobs and public safety."

 

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