A RAIL guard who protected a woman who was being sexually assaulted on a train would not have been there if transport bosses had their way and removed guards from trains, the RMT warned yesterday.
The rail workers’ union said that the Merseyside guard’s “calm intervention and decisive action” was an illustration of how safety-trained guards on trains are vital to passenger safety and wellbeing.
Councillors in charge of Merseytravel, which oversees Merseyrail, will vote tomorrow on whether to scrap the role of guard and impose driver-only services.
RMT described the plans as “sheer, reckless stupidity” yesterday.
The night-time attack happened on the district’s Northern Line on December 6.
The guard faced down the attacker, who was also trying to rob the woman, then led her to the safety of his cab and called police.
He also ensured she was able to get home safely.
RMT wrote to Merseytravel chairman Liam Robinson for the third time yesterday, questioning what would happen during an emergency, such as a fire or derailment in the network’s single-bore tunnels, if the driver was incapacitated.
The union also quoted an incident on August 25 in which a Merseyrail guard isolated the electric rail and evacuated passengers to safety after a car collided with a train at Crescent Road level crossing in Southport, while the driver remained in his cab suffering from concussion.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “Merseytravel and Merseyrail have so far simply ignored the crucial safety questions we have raised about the threat of driver-only operation.
“Wherever it has been introduced there has been a significant increase in incidents involving passengers being caught in doors or falling under trains and we, alongside our colleagues in Aslef (train drivers’ union), are not prepared to risk any extension of this fundamentally dangerous mode of operation.
“The serious incidents on Merseyrail in the last few months alone should make it clear that fully safety-trained guards are essential.”