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Publication date:- 2016-12-23

user-generated Headlines and reports on this page = 1 news items.    Page - 7.

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Added Cllr Rob Polhill, leader of Halton and lead member for transport on the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority:- "The decision today is not just about the new trains themselves, but what they will enable us to do. These trains will have the capability to operate beyond the current Merseyrail boundaries, potentially bringing the benefits of the high performing network to people in places like Skelmersdale and along the Borderlands line into Wrexham within the next 30 years; helping us deliver our long term rail strategy. The new trains will help us improve links within and beyond our area, linking in to the wider 'Northern Powerhouse Rail' agenda."

The new trains will be operated differently, with the driver; assisted by cameras along the length of the train; responsible for the opening and closing of the doors and the dispatch, rather than the guard.

This mode of operation, Driver Controlled Operation (DCO), was put forward by all bidders in meeting the recommendations of the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) report into the fatal incident, at James Street, in 2011.

Many suburban 'commuter' networks and all Metro networks in the UK are DCO, including the Tyne and Wear Metro and London Underground; which has been DCO for 30 years. In terms of 'light rail' the Manchester Metrolink is also DCO. Between 60% and 70% of all rail passenger journeys in the UK are on DCO networks. It is also used extensively across Europe.

While this method of dispatch doesn't require a 2nd person to operate the train, it is recognised that local people value on board staff. As a result, new customer service roles, based in the train saloon will be created. It will mean staff are on hand to assist and advise passengers, targeted at key locations and times. While the customer service roles will be smaller in number than the current guard complement, it is expected that a number of guards will take up these positions.

At their meeting earlier on Friday, 16 December 2016, the Merseytravel Committee put forward a motion for guaranteed continued employment for those guards who are currently permanently employed at Merseyrail and wish to remain so. On consideration of the business case, Merseytravel officers confirmed that these costs can be accommodated as part of the project. The motion was then endorsed by the Combined Authority.

Reductions in posts, required to make the project affordable, are expected to be accommodated through redeployment, voluntary redundancies and retirements over the next 4 years, until the new trains are fully operational on the network.

Said Cllr Liam Robinson, Chair of the Merseytravel Committee:- "These new trains will be fit for the future, safer and faster and at no additional cost to passengers or Council tax payers. It is a 'must do' project; the benefits are clear. That is not to say that we're not sensitive to the staffing implications of such a decision. In an ideal world we'd like to have a 2nd member of staff on every train to ensure the highest level of customer service, but there aren't the resources to do that. That is why, as the Merseytravel Committee, endorsed by the Combined Authority, we have sought guaranteed continued employment for all permanently employed guards and their managers who wish to stay at Merseyrail; something that we have had reassurance can be accommodated. Some guards will have the opportunity to be employed in a new on board customer service role and others will be able to take advantage of other redeployment opportunities, all on the same terms and conditions as now."

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But RMT guards, train maintenance workers and have lobby a crunch meeting of the Merseytravel Committee to demand that the authority retain guards and in house train maintenance on the Merseyrail network. They say that they will:- "resist any attempt to extend driver only train operation."

What are your views on the new Trains? Do you think Merseyrail will be better with this new plan? Send us your views via emailing us to:- and let us know what you really think!

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