Merseytravel/Merseyrail/Liverpool City Region V RMT train guards dispute ended BUT…….

A 507/508 EMU Merseyrail unit at Crescent Road level crossing – Birkdale, Southport.

So the RMT guards dispute is finally over and the near end result seems to be about the best that could have been hoped for by the RMT trade union and indeed the travelling public who backed them in their quest to have a 2nd member of staff on every Merseyrail Train when the new Stadler trains are introduced.

BUT, and its a big but, of course the new train fleet ordered by Merseytravel (the Transport Committee of the Liverpool City Region) was the cause of the dispute and I’m surprised that other commentators don’t seem to have grasped that pertinent point i.e. that Merseyrail were as much the victims of the political decision to have only a Driver Only Operation as the RMT trade union.

I do wonder whether behind the scenes the owners of the Merseyrail franchise (Serco and Abellio) had signaled (no railway pun intended here) that they had had a gut full of being the fall-guys for this dispute?

Merseyrail – More about the new trains

A new Stadler Merseyrail train artist impression

www.railwaygazette.com/news/traction-rolling-stock/single-view/view/battery-trial-planned-for-new-emu-fleet.html

The Railway Gazette has the details on is web site – see link above

An article for those of you more interested in the technical aspects of the new and soon to be delivered rolling stock for the Merseyrail network.

With thanks to Colin for the lead to this posting

Merseyrail – Video clips on RMT Guards dispute, new Stadler trains etc.

A 507/508 EMU Merseyrail unit at Crescent Road level crossing – Birkdale, Southport.

www.merseyrail.org/seasonal/new-fleet-videos.aspx

The videos are available on the Merseyrail web site – see link above

Yes of course, these video clips can be seen as one side of a propaganda war between Merseyrail and the RMT, although as I have said many times before Merseyrail are just the front for the dispute on the employers side as the real creators of the dispute are in fact Merseytravel, the public transport body for the Liverpool City Region.

I continue to scratch my head about how Merseyrail keep pretending the dispute is all theirs as they shield Merseytravel. However, I wonder what their feelings are behind closed doors? A little more robust, so to speak, about Merseytravel?

What’s even more odd is how the RMT seem to look at Merseyrail as their opposition in this dispute when in fact they know only too well that the rail operating company is simply carrying out the bidding of Merseytravel.

What an odd dispute this is in terms of how it was caused and by whom. But whatever the lines of dispute may be and how clouded they clearly are the Merseyrail travelling public still seem to be full square behind the RMT union.

Merseyrail – RMT Dispute over loss of Guards, strikes and Jeremy

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.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-43259075

The BBC has an article about the next round of strike action on its web site – see link above

Oh no you might say Robertson’s banging on about those interminable railway strikes again. Well yes he is but from Jeremy’s perspective! You see a couple of days ago I saw a tweet from JC which said this:-

‘This @RMTunion film shows why it is essential to keep guards on our trains. Please share and support this important campaign. #KeepTheGuardOnTheTrain’

Well no problem with the tweet in itself BUT just hang on a minute Jeremy, why did Labour-run Merseytravel order new trains for Merseyrail that are intended to be run without train guards then? The RMT are right about Keeping the guards, in my view, but Labour is complicit in the guards getting axed here on Merseyside.

May I suggest to Jeremy that he tells his comrades on Merseyside that the order for trains meant to run without guards needs to be revised so that they run with train guards, then his Merseyside chums will no longer be embarrassing him.

Merseyrail – RMT Guards Dispute – What the Liverpool City Region Mayor thinks

A new Stadler Merseyrail train artist impression

I recently contacted Steve Rotherham the Liverpool City Region Mayor about this dispute and here is his response:-

Thank you for taking the time to e-mail me about the issue of Train Safety.

Can I say that this is a dispute between Merseyrail and the RMT Union.

I am happy to use whatever influence I have to try and settle the matter but I am unable to instruct either party to come to an agreement. The contract for new rolling stock was signed prior to my election and I respect that decision.

The contract for over £460m of investment in new rolling stock, means our trains will be the most technologically advanced trains in the country. The business case was predicated on the driver having responsibility for opening and closing doors.

I too hope that a settlement can be reached asap as we need stability in our transport systems throughout the Liverpool City Region and we would not wish to imperil any investment in the future.

I have stated publically and in private to the RMT Union leaders that my door is open should they wish to meet to progress the issue and work to find an agreeable solution to the current impasse.

Yours sincerely

Steve Rotheram

Metro Mayor

Whilst Steve Rotherham is right in saying that the dispute is between Merseyrail and the RMT Trade Union my clear understanding is that the dispute was in reality created by Merseytravel, the public sector Transport Committee of the Liverpool City Region. By this I mean that it was Merseytravel who ordered the new fleet of Stadler trains which are intended to be run without train guards.

Merseyrail, the private sector train operating company, could be said to be in a dispute that is not of their own making. They may well be fronting up like they are up fight with the RMT Union but did they have any choice in reality other than to do battle with the RMT? My view is no they did not have any choice because the politicians who sit on the Merseytravel Committee dropped them right in it when they decided to axe train guards on the new fleet of trains.

This still looks to me like a dispute created by politicians but left to the private sector rail operator to fight.

Merseyrail – News about that new fleet of Stadler trains

The following is from a Merseytravel press release

Ground work has started on the new state-of-the-art depot at Kirkdale where all maintenance work for the new Merseyrail trains, due to be introduced in 2020, will take place.

Warrington-based BAM Nuttall are currently undertaking enabling works after being awarded the contract by Stadler Rail Services, who will be manufacturing and maintaining the new fleet.

Preliminary work is due to start in October, with the depot build set to be complete by 2019, in time for the arrival of new trains for testing.

Features of the new depot will include:

· The creation of a maintenance facility for the new state-of-the-art Stadler trains.

· A driving cab simulator, including a full-size mock-up of a driver’s cab, facilities for a link between the trainer and trainee and a lecture theatre for people to observe the training.

· A new train washing facility.

· Stabling capacity for up to 30 trains.

· New offices and welfare facilities for the maintenance workforce.

Meanwhile, the existing Birkenhead depot will remain essential to operations, with plans for a second new train washing facility. Detailed plans are still being developed for this site.

Thomas Zweifel, Programme Director & Deputy CEO UK for Stadler said:

“Stadler will implement in the Kirkdale depot its state-of-the-art technology and maintenance expertise. The significant local investment and up-skilling of local workforce are strengthening the Merseyside industrial sector and will overall result in a positive economic impact. Stadler is excited to be involved in this project that will see new trains on the Merseyrail network in 2020.

David Powell, Merseytravel’s programme director for the new trains said:

“The new depot at Kirkdale and the refurbished depot at Birkenhead North will be essential in keeping our new trains reliable, clean and serving the Liverpool City Region well. The start of the ground works at Kirkdale is an exciting milestone – the first real visible sign that these new state-of-the-art trains are coming.”

Jan Chaudhry-van der Velde, Merseyrail’s managing director, added:

“The start of the work to overhaul Kirkdale depot is another step along the way to transform the Merseyrail network, moving us a stage closer to the introduction of new trains. We welcome this much needed upgrade, which will take the depot into the 21st century, equipped to maintain the trains to a very high standard.”

Added Paul Abraham, project manager for BAM Nuttall:

“‘We have been working collaboratively with Stadler during the tender stage of this exciting programme. From our Warrington office we have been able to provide locally based staff to support the bid and develop the programme. We will continue with this locally based approach throughout the delivery phase and also provide opportunity for our northern based supply chain. We look forward to delivering this key piece of infrastructure for Stadler and Merseytravel and supporting the local economy’

For more information about the new trains visit www.merseytravel.gov.uk/newtrains

Notes:- In February 2017, Stadler signed contracts to manufacture and maintain a new fleet of 52 metro trains for the Liverpool City Region.

The total value of the agreements, including the depot construction works, amounts to £700 million.

The deal also includes an option clause for the production and maintenance of an additional 60 units, further increasing the total value of the contracts if exercised.

With the maintenance services and depot construction works, it is expected that around two thirds of the total contract value will be invested by Stadler into the UK and the economy of the Liverpool City Region and the wider North West.

Stadler runs maintenance operations in 16 countries worldwide.

The new fleet of trains will be in full service by 2021.

Blog editor’s note:- Of course much of this good news is still dependent on the resolution of the present industrial dispute between the RMT Union and Merseyrail over the new trains running without train guards. The industrial action, which seems to have the support of many of the travelling public on Merseyside, will seemingly continue for the foreseeable future as the dispute is presently showing little if any sign of being successfully resolved. The RMT campaign is called ‘Keep the Guards’

With thanks to Cllr. John Dodd for the lead to this story