The RAIL Maritime and Transport (RMT) union has declared a dispute on West Midlands Railway over claims it plans to ‘bulldoze through’ the controversial driver-only operation.
According to the RMT, which has more than 83,000 members in every sector of the transport industry, preparations for a strike by West Midland Railway guards, is already under way.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “The RMT will never compromise on the issues of passenger safety and accessibility.
“The company knows that and should pull back from the threat to go ahead with the driver-only operation.
“It is an attack on the safety-critical role of the guard at the platform and train interface.
“The RMT will not allow the ‘drive for profit’ to override the core issue of safe and accessible services for all users and we stand firm on that very basic principle.”
The RMT said it was down to the train company to come back with ‘safe and sensible proposals’ which recognised union members’ anger over the ‘cash-driven plans’.
Droitwich town councillor Alan Humphries, who is also the chairman of the Droitwich Spa Rail Users Action Group, said driver-only trains would be a ‘truly dreadful idea’ which would compromise the safety of all passengers, particularly disabled and vulnerable people.
“At a time when the service is already so poor in Droitwich and the Midlands, this is just another kick in the teeth.”
A West Midlands Trains spokesperson said the company had reached a framework agreement with RMT in May last year which guaranteed a safety-critical conductor on every passenger train.
“Dialogue has been ongoing since then but it appears the RMT has now changed its position.”