Steve Mann raises credible concerns in his letter published last week.
However, in regards to the driver and his role, DOO (drivers operating the doors) system has been in place and working for many years on a large number of routes.
The plan put forward is to remove the duty of the guard from closing the doors on dispatch and have his/her role concentrate within the train so there will remain a presence on board.
For how long I don’t know, another five, ten years or longer, no one really knows.
Current conductor/guards roles will revert to on-board train supervisors undertaking all their current duties except for closing the doors. Going forward, new personnel can be trained in safety critical duties to the same standard conductors are today. This dispute, like many others, is all to do with change and modernisation and unions in particular never like change.
The business of running a train service has been a privatised system for the past twenty years. As with all business owners, they need to look constantly at the economics of the business and the ways of improving the service for their customers – the one person who is always the worst affected by industrial action.
Our railways were the envy of the world, a while ago I grant you, now to a large degree, the laughing stock. Whereas mainstream Europe has invested and moved into the 21st century, we still operate a system limping along in mid-20th century mode. I myself work for Transport for London on rail infrastructure. I use main line rail to get to and from work on a daily basis, suffer myself and see suffering by others on a daily basis.
The London underground ticket offices have all closed even in the very busy stations. This has not been the end of the world as predicted beforehand. I see first hand staff in the ticket halls assisting people at the machines – it works well.
All concerned with running our railways need to do for the benefit of the customer is to look at the benefits of modernisation such as an electronic ticketing system, trains that don’t need to be cancelled because a member of crew has become displaced. How many times is that reason wheeled out and no, employing more staff to cover that possibility is not modernisation.
As a nation we can only improve on the system we have due to the lack of track and as there will never be more track bed laid, you can only run more trains on the same track adopting new technology – it’s called modernisation and change.
Less than ten years ago we still operated trains with slam doors – how dangerous was that. The new trains that run now are far safer, safety systems have been improved but there is much more to be done and that will only be achieved with all concerned working together.
One last thing to add – the main question Steve asked was would I wish to travel on a train with only a driver. Yes, because I do everyday of the week.
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