NEWS
06/10/2018 12:48 BST

Rail Strike: Everything You Need To Know About Saturday's Dispute Over Guards On Trains

'Scandalous.'

Phil Noble / Reuters

Rail workers are said to be solidly supporting fresh strikes in the long-running dispute over guards on trains, causing huge disruption to services on Saturday. 

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union on South Western Railway continued a 48-hour walkout while staff on Arriva Rail North (Northern) launched their 30th stoppage since the row started.

Northern only ran 30% of its usual services while SWR was expecting to operate half its Saturday timetable.

RMT members mounted picket lines outside stations and the union said it continued to receive public support for its campaign.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “RMT members are standing solid, determined and united again this morning on both Northern and South Western Railway in the continuing fight for safety, security and access on our trains while the train companies preside over a surge in violence across their services.

“It is scandalous that while other train operators have been prepared to engage seriously with RMT on the crucial issue of a guaranteed second safety-critical member of staff on their services, ARN and SWR have dragged their heels and made a mockery of the talks process.

“It’s time for both these companies to get out of the bunker and start talking seriously and positively with the union on the issue of the guard guarantee, instead of gambling with public safety as they pump up their profits.

“In the week where we have seen violence on the railways increase by a shocking 17%, RMT has made it clear that we will not allow safety, security and access on our railways to be compromised in the drive for private profit.

“We thank the public for their continuing support and understanding that these disputes are all about safety and passenger service on Britain’s violent railways.”

A Department for Transport spokesman said: “This dispute is not about jobs or safety. The independent rail regulator has ruled that driver-controlled trains, which have been used in this country for 30 years, are safe. Staff have also had their jobs and pay guaranteed for the length of the franchise.

“For 30 years, some routes have had a driver only on the train, and staff on the platforms instead. A traditional guard cannot walk through a busy train at peak times. Staff on the platforms are well placed to help if there is a problem.

“We urge the RMT to engage in meaningful talks so that full passenger services can resume.”

Which train companies are affected?

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) on South Western Railway (SWR) and workers on Arriva Rail North (Northern) are striking.

Northern regional director Liam Sumpter called on customers to plan their journeys carefully. “Those services we are able to run will be extremely busy,” he said.

A map can be viewed at northernrailway.co.uk/strike

How are SWR services impacted?

Most of the network is running a reduced service. SWR said some routes will not have a train service or a replacement bus service. Tickets can be used on additional bus operators outside of London.

Passengers were urged to check southwesternrailway.com for details on how their journey may be affected.

How long are the strikes taking place for?

RMT members who work for SWR are on the second day of a 48-hour strike. It is the seventh 24-hour strike of nine planned for Northern RMT members.

Why are the strikes taking place?

The RMT is locked in a long-running dispute with train companies over plans to remove guards to create driver-only trains.

Why do they object?

The RMT said a survey of 800 guards showed the “vital” safety role they play, backed up by British Transport Police figures showing a 17% surge in violence on Britain’s railways. Four out of five said they had prevented an emergency situation, half had prevented at least one sexual assault and 98% have dealt with anti-social behaviour.

What do MPs say?

Rachael Maskell, shadow transport minister, said the spike in crime “underlines the importance of a properly staffed railway to keep passengers and employees safe”.