guards, drivers and customer service hosts on Southeastern Trains are to be
balloted for industrial action by Britain’s biggest rail union after the
company declared war on the safety role of the guard and insisted on an
extension of driver-only operation.
ballot, which will open on August 21 and close on September 11, has been
sparked by the company’s intention to transfer control of power-operated doors
to drivers and scrap guards on its new Hitachi ‘Javelin’ 395 rolling stock.
avoiding meeting union reps for many months the company finally revealed that
it intends to remove all control of power-operated doors on 395s from guards,
along with the guard’s entire safety role other than train evacuation – in
breach of existing agreements.
five of 29 Javelin sets have already been delivered and SET intends to run the
fleet on routes through Kent that are currently fully guarded.
is attempting use these new trains as a Trojan horse to scrap guards and extend
driver-only operation throughout its franchise area, and that is a nightmare
prospect for rail workers and passengers alike,” RMT general secretary Bob Crow
“It is a
cost-cutting exercise that means an attack on safety standards for our members
and the hundreds of thousands of people who use SET’s trains, and it is an
attack on jobs.
twelve-car train made up of two of these new units will carry as many as 1,000
passengers through tunnels west of Ebbsfleet that together are at least as long
as the Channel tunnel and it is unbelievable that SET is proposing to run them
without fully safety trained guards.
come ahead of profit and each unit of these trains, which have no walk-through,
must have aboard a fully trained guard whose main role is the safe running of
wants to replace guards with a new non-safety critical post without the
training in on-board safety and train protection, route-knowledge and licence
that guards must have, and it all down to maximising profits.
“If SET gets
away with it on the Javelins it will adapt its entire fleet to run without
guards, and other operators – even Eurostar – will be watching very closely
are incensed by these plans, and we believe that passengers should be too. We
are ready to talk to SET about these issues, but the company should understand
that the union will back whatever action is necessary to get them reversed,”
Bob Crow said.