Union dossier highlights 'dangers' of driver-only trains


A rail union has published a dossier on the "dangers" of driver-only trains amid a series of strikes over the issue.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport union has called stoppages on ScotRail and Southern Railway in the coming weeks as part of a long running campaign against changes to the role of conductors.

The union said its research exposes in detail the threat to safety on rail services from axing guards from trains.

The report details a catalogue of incidents where the union says safety has been compromised on driver only (DOO) services as well as incidents where the presence of the guard has averted "potential disaster".

The RMT is holding a protest in London today in defence of guards on Southern services.

General secretary Mick Cash said: "This dossier has been produced by RMT as part of our national fight against the introduction and extension of driver only operation on Britain's railways as the greedy train operating companies look to dilute the safety regime in favour of maximising their profits from the privatised network.

"The dossier sets out a range of examples from across the country that detail the real consequences for the travelling public of axing and undermining the safety-critical role of the guard.

"The examples are horrific - but the current moves, in the wake of the Government-backed McNulty report that made DOO the default option on our trains - mean that they will be the tip of the iceberg if we don't halt and reverse the drive to take out the guards.

"Everyone who works on the railway knows that platform/train interface is the number one area of risk, day in and day out. 

"That fact is accepted by the safety agencies who are there to monitor and manage the safety regime across the rail network.

"With surging demand, unmatched by rail capacity, overcrowding on our trains and on our platforms is now endemic. The guards, working with their platform and driver colleagues, are the pivotal point in the safe management of the dangers presented at the passenger/train interface.

"Removing them, or downgrading their role, is a lethal gamble with passenger safety." 

The dossier said: "Since January 2011 there have been 10 serious incidents at the passenger/train interface (PTI) that have been or are subjected to investigation by the UK's national investigation body the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB).

"Eighty per cent of these incidents have involved services being operated in driver-only operation (DOO) without a second on-board safety critical worker, a guard or train manager.

"RMT believes the rail industry is hell bent on extending DOO operation to all parts of the network and we further believe that this is done at the detriment of passenger safety and only to increase profits for the train operating companies and therefore dividends for shareholders. The list of RAIB investigations is as follows:

Event date Event location Description Operation type

28.01.2011. Brentwood Station. Passenger fall between train and platform. DOO

10.10.2011. King's Cross Station. Body part trapped in door, passenger dragged along. DOO

22.10.2011. James Street Station. Fatality. Fall between trains and platform. Non-DOO

12.04.2012. Jarrow Station. Body part trapped in door, passenger dragged along. DOO

24.11.2012. Charing Cross Station. Passenger fall between train and platform. DOO

05.06.2013. Newcastle Central Station. Body part trapped in door, passenger dragged along. Non-DOO

03.02.2014. Holborn Station. Passenger clothing trapped in door, dragged along. DOO

12.03.2015. Clapham South Station. Passenger clothing trapped, resulting in fall between train and platform. DOO

10.04.2015. West Wickham. Passenger backpack trapped resulting in fall between train and platform. DOO

25.07.2015. Hayes and Harlington. Passenger body part trapped in door, dragged along. DOO.


The Department for Transport said it never compromised the safety of passengers and thousands of trains operate without incident in the UK every day with drivers controlling the doors.

A spokeswoman said: "This industrial action will do nothing other than cause yet more disruption for passengers. It is deeply disappointing that the union bosses continue to overlook the impact they are having on the travelling public, and we strongly condemn this proposed action."