I was taken by a short article in a recent Merseytravel staff briefing which reads:-
RMT Union story
We received a number of enquiries regarding the RMT announcement regarding a dispute with Merseyrail in relation to new trains which were directed to Merseyrail who issued a statement. This was picked up by several local and regional media including the Liverpool Echo.
Firstly lets get a few explanations in
The railway unions are ASLEF and RMT
The public transport body for the Liverpool City Region/Merseyside is Merseytravel which is a Committee of the Liverpool City Region. The Liverpool City Region is presently run by the leaders of the 6 local authorities across Merseyside. These leaders in turn nominate councillors to sit on the Merseytravel Committee.
The current private sector operator of the trains on the Merseyrail 3rd rail electrified suburban network is unsurprisingly called Merseyrail.It has a franchise agreement to run the Merseyrail network until 2028 if memory serves. They were awarded that franchise by Merseytravel.
There is every reason to think that those who are not close to the goings on of the rail industry on Merseyside will confuse and transpose the names Merseytravel and Merseyrail. Indeed, the similar names must lead to confusion as to who is responsible for what. That may of course be convenient for some?
Now back to the reason for this posting. You see the quote above from the Merseytravel staff briefing is revealing as in effect the public transport body for our area is seemingly saying to the press don’t ask us about the operation of the new trains we have just ordered ask Merseyrail the operator of the trains.
But just hang on a minute who ordered the new trains? Yes you’ve guessed correctly it is Merseytravel. And who chose to select a bidder to build the trains – again Merseytravel. So who decided that the new trains would be DOO (Driver Only Operation) i.e. No train Guard? Well to me it must be Merseytravel yet again. It was they who put out the tender for the building of the trains, they who selected the winning bidder (Swiss firm Stadler) and they who will own trains that are not intended to run with Train Guards.
On that basis why are Merseytravel saying that they are telling the media to speak to Merseyrail about the potential for an industrial dispute over the removal of Train Guards? Yes, Merseyrail will be the employer which the unions will be legally in dispute with but the creation of that dispute, should it get to that point, will have been via the decision making of the public sector body Merseytravel!
Work that one out! And is this ‘arrangement’ not very similar to what is going on with the Southern Rail dispute presently i.e. the public sector (in Southern’s case the Department for Transport) making decisions that a private sector operator then has to implement whilst the public sector hands are washed of it all?
My thanks to Phil for the thoughts behind this particular posting.
BTW, just a thought. It’s not so long ago that there was a big fuss about new trains being built abroad instead of in the UK. I have not heard a peep about Merseyrail’s new trains being Swiss built. And is this not even more odd now we have as a nation confirmed our wish (not mine I would add!) to be insular and inward facing? As I say just a thought.