Standards body says removing guards risks safety of disabled
RAIL safety bosses admitted yesterday that Southern Rail’s plan to remove guards from trains will disadvantage disabled and elderly passengers.
The admission by the employer-funded Rail Safety Standards Board came as rail union RMT staged the last of a three-day strike.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “The fact that Southern want to plough ahead with their plans to remove guards from trains shows that their actions are purely motivated by profit.”
The government was also warned yesterday by passenger group the Association of British Commuters that a “tragedy” on Southern lines is inevitable if health and safety problems which have arisen since the disruption are not dealt with.
The group gave witness reports from passengers including violence at Brighton station, dangerous overcrowding and mass rushes along busy platforms to board trains in the case of last-minute announcements.
There were also reports of heavily pregnant women struggling to cope on packed trains.
The group, which are seeking judicial review of the government’s handling of the rail franchise, illustrated their concerns with a graphic showing a packed platform, with the message: “It is not a case of if a tragedy might happen but when.”
RMT is planning more strikes in November and December but agreed to suspend strike action on November 3, following a request from the British Legion which is holding an event on the day. The rest of the scheduled action will go ahead as planned.
MPs are raising Southern’s safety issues in the Commons with a motion stating: “Train guards currently provide a safety-critical role, which gives a guarantee of a second person on a train to provide assistance to passengers who require it.