Union publishes six point plan that could end dispute over guards on trains ‘in three seconds’

As RMT union members enter a second week of strike action on South Western Railway trains, a potential way forward has been published.

The union has set out a six point ‘road map’ to a settlement.

The plan, which the union intended to table at renewed ACAS talks with the company at the end of last week, shows a settlement is achievable – if the train company agrees to add a few seconds to the despatch time in the interests of safety and accessibility.

The road map comprises:

  • That there will be an active safety critical guard on every passenger train in service.
  • That guards will retain their safety critical competencies including an active role in the safe dispatch of trains.
  • That as far as practicable every station and train will be 100 per cent accessible for passengers with guards playing a role in the accessibility of services for all passengers.
  • SWR will guarantee the role of the guard until the end of the franchise and seek DfT commitment beyond the life of the current franchise.
  • That it is feasible to create an optimal method of dispatch in which the guard has an active and defined role as well as being able to provide passenger assistance.
  • RMT recognises the company’s ambition to reduce station dwell times to an appropriately efficient and safe time. The current difference between driver-only and active-guard is 3-4 seconds and RMT will work with the company on this issue. This will include implementation of driver releasing doors and future implementation of Automatic Braking-Door Open (ABDO) system.

Trains, guards and safety

General Secretary of the RMT Mick Cash said: “As our members stand solid and united with this phase of SWR strike action entering is second week, we are literally three seconds away from a deal that would achieve both our objectives and the company’s and I would appeal to SWR to get out of their bunker and back into ACAS with the union to bolt down a settlement.

“A negotiated solution to this dispute, which would cost the company nothing and meet RMT’s objectives of protecting safety and accessibility, is within grasp. I would urge SWR to seize this opportunity.”

Last week, South Western Railway said: “We’re pleased that the RMT wants to come back to the table.  But we need the RMT to show they are serious about ending these strikes in a way that works for passengers.

“They need to explain exactly what do they want instead of the written agreement they took away from ACAS last Thursday, and offer a new solution that safely delivers over 10m more passenger journeys on-time every year.

“We want a guard on every train with a safety critical role.  But we want to enable guards to spend more time helping people in wheelchairs and with buggies get on and off the train, walking up and down all the carriages and ensuring the safety of passengers at times of need.”

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