LETTER: Rail strike not about safety

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Let’s be quite clear that this strike by the RMT is not about safety. That was all dealt with 33 years ago when the NUR and ASLEF ‘blacked’ brand new electric units on the Bedford to St Pancras line between December, 1981, and April, 1983, because they were to be run as “DOO” Driver only operation.

I went past these units every day as they sat in Cricklewood sidings. In the end agreement was arrived at and they were driven just by drivers and, in due course, this route became Thameslink and are still, safely, being driven just by drivers with no other staff on the train, like the London Underground, DLR and many Southern Metro lines.

This strike is about the power of the union. GTR/Southern (who do not receive any of the money paid in fares – it goes to the Department for Transport) are, in fact putting a second person on a number of trains that used never to have them, an action I applaud because I would like a second person on board, but they do not need to interrupt their work with passengers to close the doors, this can be done, perfectly safely, by the driver though GTR/Southern PR explaining this is appalling.

RMT’s approach is that if a train splits at Horsham (as most of ours do) and no second person were, exceptionally, available, they would prefer to turf the passengers off the train, forcing them to wait an hour, whilst GTR/Southern want to run the train as DOO so as to get the passengers to their paid for destination.

This shows RMT in its true light, emphasised by their moving the strike day to interfere with Lewes fireworks and making life for passengers intolerable over Christmas.

About 300 RMT staff are causing utter misery to many thousands of innocent passengers and that shows just how much RMT care about passengers.

The bottom line is that it is the RMT against the Government who are enforcing the terms of the management contract that GTR/Southern have entered into with them.

Roger Keyworth

West Sussex Rail Users

Association

Chairman