RMT ‘Keep the guards’ campaign – Merseytravel responds

Readers of this blog may know that the RMT union has launched a ‘keep the guards’ campaign following it being suggested that the new fleet of trains for Merseyrail will be/could be driver only operation.

I have covered this issue previously as it is one which many see as being a negative step that does not need to be taken by Merseyrail, the private sector operator of Liverpool’s electrified local railway network or Merseytravel the public sector authority which oversees Merseyrail.

When Merseytravel were approached by Radio Merseyside below is how they responded following the launch of the RMT campaign to keep the guards on the Merseyrail network when new trains are introduced after 2020.

The statement provided to the radio station, which was read out on air, said that at this early stage no decisions had been taken into whether the new trains will be Driver Controlled Operated (DCO) – where the driver with the use of cameras and associated technology is responsible for the safe dispatch of the train rather than guards.

It was also highlighted that while Merseytravel will not be specifying that any new trains should be DCO, this method of dispatch has become increasingly commonplace in the UK (such as on the Tube in London and the Tyne and Wear Metro) and we do expect this may feature in the proposals put to us. It was stressed that Merseytravel are committed to maintaining a staff presence on a new fleet.

I have the feeling that this issue has a long way to run yet although Merseytravel could settle it now by simply saying that they will not be specifying driver only operation on the new trains. The ball or is that train seems to be firmly in Merseytravel’s court or is that siding.