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Wednesday 26th
posted by Conrad Landin in Britain

PASSENGERS are feeling less secure on trains, new figures have shown, as private operators press ahead with plans to expand driver-only operation.

Transport Focus’s spring survey showed just 75 per cent of passengers were satisfied with their personal security on trains — down two percentage points on last year’s figures.

Overall satisfaction was at 83 per cent, up from 80 per cent last year. The best performing companies were Heathrow Express and Hull Trains, with 97 per cent satisfaction.

Southern, which is still in a bitter dispute with unions over the removal of the guarantee of a guard on trains, recorded the lowest figure of 72 per cent, up from 69 per cent last year.

Transport Focus chief executive Anthony Smith warned: “These green shoots are fragile and need nurturing.”

Rail union RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “These are marginal increases in satisfaction from an abysmal base, and coming at the time that key electrification and upgrade works are being cancelled, passengers and staff will be rightly cynical.

“The only solution to Britain’s private rail rip-off is public ownership.”

RMT members have gone on strike on Southern, Northern and Merseyrail over plans to move to driver-only operation — effectively deskilling the role of guards. All three operators insist they will not budge on the move.

As well as fearing for jobs, unions have raised safety concerns about running trains without a member of staff to assist passengers — pointing to the needs of elderly and disabled passengers, and onboard sexual assaults.

Shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald said “concerning decline in passengers’ sense of personal security” brought “into question the government’s policy of destaffing and deskilling the railway.”