13 Days Remaining

Friday 11th
posted by Conrad Landin in Britain

THE boss of new rail franchise South Western Railway hinted yesterday that drivers on the service would be in control of closing train doors.

South Western Railway managing director Andy Mellors said his company would “retain a second person on every train” but suggested that guards could focus on assisting passengers and not carry out operational duties.

The controversial expansion of driver-only operation has provoked industrial disputes across Britain’s rail network — with strong opposition from workers.

Rail unions and commuter groups have voiced concerns over job losses, safety and access for disabled passengers.

In an interview with the BBC, Mr Mellors, whose company will take over from South West Trains next week, said: “As with any new train there are different ways of operation.

“Our bid didn’t rely on driver-controlled operation. It was not mandated in the Department for Transport’s Invitation To Tender.”

Asked if he was looking towards driver-controlled operation on all new inner and outer suburban services with the delivery of new trains from 2019, he said: “I think you might reasonably conclude that.

“As I say, we are not wedded to any one method of operation.”

Rail union RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “We will be meeting with the company next week to clarify just what they mean by that commitment and to ensure that the long-standing agreement on guards on South West Trains is adhered to.”

The expansion of driver-only trains has led to strikes on Northern and Merseyrail as well as the long-running dispute on Southern — where fresh talks met a stalemate earlier this week.

Disputes on Great Western Railway and Scotrail were resolved after agreements were reached with unions.