GTR, so-called managers of Southern Rail, have issued a “Winter Brief” to their staff entitled “Train Crew Matters”.
It gives 14 pages of reminders to train drivers, conductors and platform staff on how to prevent accidents at the platform edge in winter weather. It says members of staff – be they on the station platform or on the train – help to reduce dangers by keeping an eye on passengers boarding or alighting from the train. It quotes the RSSB (Rail Safety Standards Board) in saying that the total amount of risk to people around the platform edge is equivalent to nearly 13 fatalities each year.
It gives detailed advice on how to spot those who are vulnerable to falls or other problems, and what action to take to prevent such incidents. It reminds them to “Act to stop unsafe behaviours like standing too close to the edge or running.”
“Everyone working in the station” is reminded to remain aware at all times, to give clear information, help people onto the train, show them a place to sit and be prepared to co-ordinate with other members of staff if anything goes wrong. Is it really necessary to point out to GTR that if the station is unstaffed and there’s no guard on the train, there is no-one for the lone member of staff – the driver – to co-ordinate with?
GTR have spent the last 18 months telling us, first that they don’t need station staff, then that they don’t need a conductor on the train. They claim that their new “on-board supervisor” is just the same as the guard despite the fact that they show no inclination to give new “supervisors” the months of training guards used to get, and that every “deal” they’ve offered the RMT includes a get-out clause for them – that they don’t have to put a supervisor on the train. How often do we see GTR going the extra mile voluntarily? “Don’t have to” is fairly obviously going to pan out as “generally won’t”.
So, when driver-only train pulls in at unstaffed station, do we really need to ask GTR whether the driver is going to jump out of the cab and run up and down the platform giving advice and helping people onto the train – with those great big fines hanging over the company if the train is more than a minute late?
This crazy system is already in operation on quite a few services. Over the Christmas period, one of the more interesting results was a wheel chair user attempting a short journey in the Angmering area being carried all the way to Southampton before finding a station where staff were available to assist him to get off.
I’m tired of writing about these absurdities – either find a company that’s able and willing to run trains or take over,
employ some staff and run a train service.
The Unloved Passenger
What you can do
Support RMT and ASLEF actions when you see them at the station.
Support Action for Rail – come to your local station on 3rd January to protest fare rises for poor service.
Sign the Bring Back British Rail petition and, while you’re on their site, get some of their stickers to use when you travel.