The local rail users’ group has again written to Theresa May about the industrial action continuing to disrupt Southern rail services.
The decision to transfer train door operation from conductors to drivers has led to conductors’ strikes, drivers’ strikes and a drivers’ overtime ban.
Govia Thameslink Railway, which operates Southern, says the change is safe, but the RMT and ASLEF unions say it isn’t.
In its latest letter to the Prime Minister, the Reigate, Redhill & District Rail Users’ Association (RRDRUA) asks the Government to address drivers’ concerns about operating the doors, by funding better cab equipment and dispatch arrangements.
In a press release on Monday RRDRUA explained:
“The drivers do not feel the current door closing equipment is safe and there are two simple (but costly) resolutions to this:
– better cab screens with larger high definition images so they can see platforms clearly
– better platform assistance for drivers at stations with major interchanges of passengers as cab screens cannot show enough detail
When DOO was introduced it was on lightly used 4 coach trains, these trains have since grown to 12 coaches and passenger usage has ballooned massively, the safety of these systems needs to be looked at carefully to ensure the drivers have adequate assistance to do their job safely.”
Stephen Trigg, chairperson of RRDRUA, added:
“Resolve the safety aspects and the drivers have no reason to strike. To resolve this requires proper funding by DfT and thus the Prime Minister and her Government has to step in by providing the necessary funds to assist the resolution of this dispute.”
When asked about the rail users’ points, a Govia spokesperson said:
“Independent safety bodies have said it’s perfectly safe for the driver to have sole responsibility for the operation of a modern train – that’s how a third of the trains up and down the country already operate today – with the full agreement and support of ASLEF.
All of the on-train equipment is safe and fully functional and the Office of Rail and Road said that our DOO is fully compliant. However, on some fleets the equipment is older than others (but still safe) and as part of the recent talks at Acas with ASLEF, we offered to discuss up-grading this in line with later fleets.
We have also reviewed the dispatch process at stations and have allocated additional resources where relevant.”
Reigate.uk has also e-mailed ASLEF for comment on RRDRUA’s points.
RRDRUA highlighted to the Prime Minister the human cost of the dispute:
“Your citizens are suffering daily, when people are fainting or simply just crying on trains, having health problems, receiving extreme mental anxiety and finding their financial position at high risk because of an unnecessary strike, it needs the head of our Government to step in, find out what is wrong and create a solution.”
RRDRUA’s previous letter to the Prime Minister also made suggestions about how the dispute could be resolved. An exchange of letters between rail minister Paul Maynard MP and the group then followed.
Correspondence (opens 2MB PDF, most recent letter first)