1. ITV Report

Strikes possible on South West Trains if driver-only operation introduced

Photo: PA

Strike action could spread to South West Trains unless the companies new owners promise not to introduce driver-only trains.

The rail union RMT say First Group, who will take over the company next month, are refusing to rule out the move and they will take any action necessary to protect the jobs of guards.

First Group say it has no firm proposals and will work with the RMT on future plans which include running more trains.

The RMT is demanding a meet with the new operator.

Credit: PA

We have shared with the RMT that our plans involve an increase in guards and drivers to provide additional services. Our plans are not committed to any one method of train operation so we have invited RMT colleagues to attend a planning session where we can present the initial designs of the new trains and share ideas on how they best operate. We are confident our people will be excited by our focus on higher quality services for customers, as our plans involve new and better trains, more seats and services, quicker journey times and an increase in staffing levels. We will fully involve our employees, in the normal way, if changes are proposed. We are preparing to take on the South Western franchise from 20 August and we look forward to working with RMT and all our stakeholders.”

– First Group Spokesperson

The company’s response is totally unacceptable and we can only assume that this is a blatant attempt at looking to roll out DOO/DCO on the new franchise at some point, whilst cutting staff.“There is currently a longstanding agreement in place that there will be no extension of Driver Only Operation and no threat to guards jobs or roles and that agreement transfers with the undertaking to First MTR.“The union is now seeking a meeting with the company to gain assurances on all the issues we have raised with them. If no assurances are forthcoming then our executive committee will consider the use of all other options at their disposal.”

– Mick Cash, RMT General Secretary