RAIL unions welcomed yesterday’s announcement by Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones that safety-critical guards will be kept on all Wales and Borders trains.
Transport union RMT general secretary Mick Cash hailed the move as a “breakthrough” in its campaign against driver-only operated trains.
He welcomed a range of commitments from Mr Jones which included guarantee of no compulsory redundancies and negotiations with rail unions on rolling stock maintenance and staffing issues.
Disputes over the removal of the safety-critical guard across Britain’s rail network have seen union members taking strike action on Southern Rail, Northern and Merseyrail. RMT has urged Transport Secretary Chris Grayling to intervene with industrial action set to spread with two 24-hour stoppages planned on Greater Anglia next week. But its offer of talks involving all parties has been rejected.
Mr Cash said: “The First Minister’s welcome commitment to keep a guard on every train is a breakthrough for our campaign against driver-only trains and for our campaign for a safe, secure and accessible railway, not only in Wales but nationwide.
“Our policy is for a national integrated railway under public ownership and we will continue to campaign for that. We note that this is also the aspiration of the Welsh government which are operating within the legislative constraints imposed by Westminster.
“Within that legislative straitjacket however it is welcome that we have been able to engage in very positive and constructive discussions with Mr Jones.”
Drivers’ union Aslef leader Mick Whelan welcomed the commitments and commended the Welsh government for “recognising the importance of consulting with the rail unions.”