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Councillors join calls to keep safety-critical guards on trains

RAIL bosses must guarantee that guards are maintained on trains, councillors in the north of England are demanding.

Rail union RMT said that West Yorkshire Combined Authority opposition to driver-only trains showed that passengers would not stand for reduced safety standards.

The intervention is significant as the authority is a key player in Rail North, the locally accountable body which is jointly responsible for the Northern rail franchise.

Northern, which is owned by the German state railway, has faced strikes as one of several operators seeking to introduce driver-only operation.

In a letter published yesterday the authority’s transport committee chairman Keith Wakefield said: “The West Yorkshire Combined Authority has supported RMT concern for passenger safety under the proposed driver-only operation.

“Given the disruption to passengers, we have urged that the government intervenes to bring about a fair settlement, like they have in Scotland, which gives assurances to vulnerable passengers.”

Disputes on ScotRail and Great Western Railway were resolved after rail privateers agreed to maintain skilled and safety-trained guards.

But services on Southern, Northern, Merseyrail, Greater Anglia and South Western Railway continue to face disruption from RMT strikes.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “We welcome this latest round of political support for our campaign to keep the guard on the train in the North.

“There is also now opposition to driver-only trains from councils in the vast majority of Rail North areas. In fact, we are not aware of one council in the north that has voted to support driver-only trains.

“It is time for [Transport Secretary] Chris Grayling and the government in London to stop blocking a resolution of this dispute in the North.”

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