Warning over passenger safety as union vows to fight driver only trains plan

East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Four stations in Waltham Forest, Blackhorse Road, Walthamstow Queen's Road, Leyton Midland Road and Leytonstone High Road, are on the Barking to Gospel Oak line. Four stations in Waltham Forest, Blackhorse Road, Walthamstow Queen's Road, Leyton Midland Road and Leytonstone High Road, are on the Barking to Gospel Oak line.

A rail operator has been accused of risking passenger safety if it presses ahead with a plan to remove guards from Overground serives in Waltham Forest.

Transport for London (TfL) recently announced it hopes to remove the guards when it installs new technology on trains on the Barking to Gospel Oak line - leaving the driver as the only member of staff.

But the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) has vowed to challenge the move, claiming passenger safety will be compromised.

The union said members were prepared to strike over the issue, which affects services running stopping at  Leyton MIdland, Leytonstone High Road Blackhorse Road and Walthamstow Queens Road stations.

John Leach, RMT regional organiser for London transport, said: "RMT are going to resist this because we are determined to keep the railway safe.

"Fundamentally we believe all trains should be guarded by a human being.

"Opening and closing doors is part of what they do but not the main part – you can’t run a railway safely without people.

"People are being replaced by technology."

Mr Leach said London Overground Rail Operations Ltd (LOROL), the body that operates Overground services on behalf of TfL, contacted the union out of the blue this month saying they intended to get rid of the guards.

TfL are set to activate a clause in their contract which would see driver only operation on all trains.

Though no final decision has been officially made, a TfL spokesman said LOROL is consulting on TfL’s behalf.

Jonathan Fox, Acting Director of TfL London Rail, said: "We do not believe that the new system will have any impact on safety.

"On the East London Line, which uses driver only operation, the rate of door incidents is one for every 7 million passengers.

"This compares to the section of the network which currently uses conductors, where the rate of door incidents is one for every 4 million passengers."

Mr Fox added that the proposed system would save £5m each year and that all Overground stations will continue to be staffed while trains are running.

Cameras, communication equipment between drivers and the operations base will be installed before guards are scrapped.

Driver only trains currently operate on 60 per cent of the Overground network.

TfL say they do not have a timeframe on the project, but RMT claim the plans are scheduled for completion in 12 months.

Comments (8)

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11:35am Fri 19 Jul 13

Young-Gunner43 says...

What Guards? There aren't any. Nor are there on Greater Anglia and haven't been for years.
What Guards? There aren't any. Nor are there on Greater Anglia and haven't been for years. Young-Gunner43

11:39am Fri 19 Jul 13

HITCHIN47 says...

Have used this line for over 30 years & guards do great job, always there to assist commuters. Disappointed with TfL plans. Maybe biased as got to know some guards personally over years.
Have used this line for over 30 years & guards do great job, always there to assist commuters. Disappointed with TfL plans. Maybe biased as got to know some guards personally over years. HITCHIN47

1:23pm Fri 19 Jul 13

AndyBSG says...

Completely correct decision.

There is no need for guards and the people doing this job are paid a full time wage for doing very little.

I personally find it offensive the money some rail staff are paid, 40K+ for tube drivers who sit on their butt most of the day pressing a few buttons while nurses, teachers and other University educated people are paid a lot less... The pay structure in the transport industry is a sad relic from the days when unions held the public and government to ransom.
Completely correct decision. There is no need for guards and the people doing this job are paid a full time wage for doing very little. I personally find it offensive the money some rail staff are paid, 40K+ for tube drivers who sit on their butt most of the day pressing a few buttons while nurses, teachers and other University educated people are paid a lot less... The pay structure in the transport industry is a sad relic from the days when unions held the public and government to ransom. AndyBSG

1:26pm Fri 19 Jul 13

Raoulster says...

I don't get this we have new buses with a conductor, but we're not allowed the same on trains it just seems nonsensical, one way or another please TFL.
I don't get this we have new buses with a conductor, but we're not allowed the same on trains it just seems nonsensical, one way or another please TFL. Raoulster

3:10pm Fri 19 Jul 13

cynicalsue says...

Young-Gunner43 wrote:
What Guards? There aren't any. Nor are there on Greater Anglia and haven't been for years.
What? There ARE Guards on this service. Maybe you just haven't been using it for the last 5 years?
What's more, they do a great job; at the very least reassuring passengers that help is at hand when needed which is invaluable, in my opinion, particularly n the dark mornings and evenings of Autumn/Winter.
Keep the Guards!
[quote][p][bold]Young-Gunner43[/bold] wrote: What Guards? There aren't any. Nor are there on Greater Anglia and haven't been for years.[/p][/quote]What? There ARE Guards on this service. Maybe you just haven't been using it for the last 5 years? What's more, they do a great job; at the very least reassuring passengers that help is at hand when needed which is invaluable, in my opinion, particularly n the dark mornings and evenings of Autumn/Winter. Keep the Guards! cynicalsue

5:09pm Sun 21 Jul 13

myopinioncounts says...

Many stations are built with a curve and it is impossible for the driver to see all the way down his/her train to check if passengers are clear of the doors before leaving. A guard helps in these situations but it would be better if all stations had platform staff to do this job and assist generally in keeping the station clean and safe for passengers.
Many stations are built with a curve and it is impossible for the driver to see all the way down his/her train to check if passengers are clear of the doors before leaving. A guard helps in these situations but it would be better if all stations had platform staff to do this job and assist generally in keeping the station clean and safe for passengers. myopinioncounts

3:31pm Mon 22 Jul 13

GlennW says...

Young-Gunner43 wrote:
What Guards? There aren't any. Nor are there on Greater Anglia and haven't been for years.
Since 1991 all services from Liverpool Street are DOO all the way to Kings Lynn and Ipswich except the Norwich InterCity which carries a conductor-guard.

The ex Silverlink Metro routes taken over by TfL in 2007 have always had guards with the exception of the Watford locai service.
[quote][p][bold]Young-Gunner43[/bold] wrote: What Guards? There aren't any. Nor are there on Greater Anglia and haven't been for years.[/p][/quote]Since 1991 all services from Liverpool Street are DOO all the way to Kings Lynn and Ipswich except the Norwich InterCity which carries a conductor-guard. The ex Silverlink Metro routes taken over by TfL in 2007 have always had guards with the exception of the Watford locai service. GlennW

3:38pm Mon 22 Jul 13

GlennW says...

AndyBSG wrote:
Completely correct decision. There is no need for guards and the people doing this job are paid a full time wage for doing very little. I personally find it offensive the money some rail staff are paid, 40K+ for tube drivers who sit on their butt most of the day pressing a few buttons while nurses, teachers and other University educated people are paid a lot less... The pay structure in the transport industry is a sad relic from the days when unions held the public and government to ransom.
The train drivers union ASLEF have raised the driver' wages higher and higher since privatisation because the companies are terrified of drivers' strikes. Meanwhile other rail workers like platform and booking office staff's pay has risen no more than the general average.
[quote][p][bold]AndyBSG[/bold] wrote: Completely correct decision. There is no need for guards and the people doing this job are paid a full time wage for doing very little. I personally find it offensive the money some rail staff are paid, 40K+ for tube drivers who sit on their butt most of the day pressing a few buttons while nurses, teachers and other University educated people are paid a lot less... The pay structure in the transport industry is a sad relic from the days when unions held the public and government to ransom.[/p][/quote]The train drivers union ASLEF have raised the driver' wages higher and higher since privatisation because the companies are terrified of drivers' strikes. Meanwhile other rail workers like platform and booking office staff's pay has risen no more than the general average. GlennW

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