LIVERPOOL council will debate the “extremely concerning” threat to conductors in northern England posed by plans for driver-only trains on Wednesday, as campaigners warn passenger safety is at risk.
Councillors will discuss a motion praising the “vital customer service role” of conductors on Northern Rail and TransPennine Express services, where new franchise proposals have instructed bidders to set out how they would introduce driver-only operation.
“Council is extremely concerned about the potential impact such a retrograde move would have on travellers to and from Liverpool and across the region in general,” the motion states.
“Passenger Focus research demonstrates that passengers' perception of safety and security is greatly enhanced by the presence of conductors on trains.”
The motion calls on Liverpool City Council’s chief executive to write to ministers, MPs and transport authorities to lobby against the removal of guards.
Rail union RMT has pushed an extensive campaign against the changes, including distributing 10,000 postcards to passengers to send to their MPs. An Early Day Motion on the subject has been tabled in Parliament and signed by 47 MPs.
RMT acting general secretary Mick Cash said: “RMT welcomes the fact that Liverpool City Council will be debating the real impact on jobs, safety and service of the proposed new Northern and Trans-Pennine Express franchises.
“Let’s not forget that the core of the government’s future plans for Northern and TPE is to axe jobs, throw the guards off the trains and jack up fares while capacity to meet surging rail demand in the area is left to stagnate.”