Merseyrail’s RMT dispute and the two Mayors as Labour starts to duff itself up over DOO

Merseyrail’s new Stadler Trains, to be delivered in a couple of years time, are at the heart of the dispute about driver only operated trains.

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/national-union-boss-launches-stinging-14010950

The Liverpool Echo has the story on its web site

Yes OK it’s an issue I have covered many, many times in recent months but this is a new angle. It shows how figures within the Labour Party are at odds with each other over the Driver Only Operated (DOO) trains that are coming to the Merseyrail network with the new Stadler rolling stock.

In essence the Echo article is one where the RMT union is accusing the two Labour Mayors of Liverpool (Joe Anderson) and Liverpool City Region (Steve Rotherham) of siding with private sector train operating company Merseyrail when the RMT quite obviously feels the Mayors should be siding with RMT.

Well you might say, that’s a statement of the blinding obvious but hang on a minute. I’ve pointed out before that in reality Merseyrail are only in effect a front for this dispute as it was created by Merseytravel the public sector transport committee of the Liverpool City Region which has a huge Labour majority. It was Merseytravel who approved the purchase of the new Stadler trains which can/will run without train guards. Merseyrail were simply told to get on with it after Merseytravel had thrown the fire cracker into their relationship with the RMT guards that Merseyrail employ. Yes Merseyrail have been loyal and taken on the dispute but let’s not forget where the dispute with RMT was created – at Merseytravel.

So you could say Labour backs DOO on Merseytravel Committee, RMT a Labour supporting union opposes DOO and our two Labour Mayors are caught in the middle being in effect accused by the RMT of backing DOO by the back door.

Merseyrail – When a train is simply too short!

Merseyrail Class 508 EMU at Maghull Station

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/merseyrails-three-car-train-misery-14040000

The Liverpool Echo has the story – see link above

Folk using the Merseyrail Northern Line between Liverpool & Ormskirk may soon be using the ‘Miseryrail’ phrase as 3 car trains are yet again the order of the day due to power shortages at Aughton Park.

This first manifested itself a few weeks back but here we go again it seems. 3 car trains at rush hours are bad for passengers and they are letting their feelings be known!

Network Rail are in the dock over this continuing problem.

Mobility Scooters and Northern’s aged train fleet sadly don’t mix

Mind the gap – It is often the height difference between a train door and station platform which causes difficulties for those with a disability.

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/disabled-pregnant-woman-not-allowed-13953682

The Liverpool Echo has the story on it s web site – see link above

How long has the Disabled Discrimination Act (DDA) been in place? Well it came into effect in 2005 and was then added to/superseded by the Equities Act of 2010 yet still people with disabilities are left at a disadvantage.

Frankly it is not good enough in my book.

The photo is amongst my flickr shots at:-

www.flickr.com/photos/86659476@N07/

Driver only operation of trains – Have ASLEF shafted fellow trade union RMT?

Readers of this blog site will know I have been keeping a close eye on Driver Only Operation (DOO) of trains, with particular reference to the industrial dispute involving franchise operator Merseyrail and the RMT union where removal of train guards is planned when new Stadler rolling stock is delivered in a couple of years time.

Merseyrail’s new Stadler Trains, to be delivered in a couple of years time, are at the heart of the dispute about driver only operated trains.

In case you are not up to speed a brief recap – Merseytravel the transport committee of the Liverpool City Region (a public sector body) decided to accept a tender for new trains that can/will run without train guards. Unsurprisingly, the RMT union which represents train guards said we are not having that. Merseytravel in effect then passed the dispute, which they had created, onto Merseyrail the private sector franchise operator of trains on Merseyside – a sort this out, we are washing our hands of it type situation if ever I saw one. So Merseyrail find themselves in dispute with their own train guards union over a matter (that they had little say in?) but one that they have to accept and in effect justify and promote! The dispute is ongoing with little sign of a solution so far despite many Merseyrail RMT strike days.

So what’s ASLEF got to do with this dispute. Well they represent train drivers and on the infamous Southern rail franchise where the most significant dispute over DOO has been taking place over a long time period a settlement has recently been reached with ASLEF. It in effect buys them out of the dispute down on Southern. And buys them out could seemingly not be a more appropriate phrase as they, the train drivers, have gained a 28.5% pay rise over 3 years! What’s more we are told that other than in exceptional circumstances a second safety trained member of staff (an On Board Supervisor or OBS) will be on board all Southern trains – is that not all but alternative speak for a train guard?

Ironically, the Southern dispute was being propped up by the Department for Transport who were seemingly out to break trade union refusal to accept more DOO trains. Well it’s cost the DfT quite a few bob in the end and train guards with a different name but doing a remarkably similar job!

The RMT union though are far from happy, not least with their comrades in ASLEF who they seem to see as having taken the King’s Shilling so to speak.

So how will the dispute resolution on Southern affect Merseyrail? Well you can bet the RMT are probably more motivated to fight on than they were before, if their members will continue to back prolonged strike action. The guards and indeed RMT seem to be holding the public support they have had since the dispute started as rail users, particularly female ones, want to keep an on-board second person for customer safety reasons. Merseyrail are only offering this facility on some trains, where problems and disorder are more likely as far as I can see. On that basis resolution of the dispute would seem to hang on Merseyrail extending the second on-board member of staff to all trains?

As a lifelong trade unionist seeing ASLEF and the RMT being caught in a divide and rule type situation is unfortunate. However, sadly trade unions do have the ability to act in very selfish ways that they usually claim to be very much opposed to and it seems that the old adage ‘everyone has their price’ still applies.

So Merseytravel/Merseyrail. Let’s bring this dispute to an end. Time to back off and put second on-board safety critical member of staff on every one of your new Stadler trains and you can call them whatever you like so long as they look and act like train guards.

Merseyrail this Christmas – Things to watch out for when planning a journey

Maghull North Station site on 4th December with a train running through from Ormskirk.

Be prepared especially if you are using the Liverpool Ormskirk Line – the link below to the Merseyrail site may help

www.merseyrail.org/plan-your-journey/merseyrail-christmas-services.aspx

In particular please keep this in mind:-

Planned Engineering Work
Maghull – Ormskirk

Wednesday 27 December until Sunday 7 January 2018

Preparation for the new Maghull North station will take place between December 27th 2017 and January 7th 2018. Rail replacement buses will run between Ormskirk and Maghull stations.

Passengers are advised that to reach their destination station at their normal time, they will need to catch the rail replacement bus at their origin station 20 minutes earlier than their usual train.

And spare a thought for the Mersey Avenue residents who are having a tough time because of the construction works associated with the new Maghull North Station.

With thanks to Bob for the lead to this posting