#RMT: new #strikes, evidence of #DOO ‘collusion’ among ‘independent’ bodies

The RMT rail union has announced three days of further strike action in its safety battle with rail operators over their push toward ‘driver-only operation’ (DOO) – as evidence emerges of ‘collusion’ among supposedly-independent rail bodies.

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The strikes, which will affect Merseyrail, Southern and Arriva Rail North services, will take place as follows:

Southern: 10 July
Arriva: 8-10 July
Merseyrail: 8 July, 10 July, 23 July

The dispute is over the demonstrable impact of switching further services to DOO on the safety and security of passengers, particularly the elderly, infirm, women travelling alone and families with children.

At the same time, evidence has emerged of email exchanges among ‘independent’ rail bodies including the Rail Safety and Standards Board on the topic of how to achieve the extension of DOO, including a statement that it is government policy to extend DOO across the entire rail network – making a complete mockery of any claims by government or rail operators to be engaging in ‘consultations’ on changes in individual areas.

The SKWAWKBOX has obtained copies of these emails, which were not previously in the public domain, for its readers:


Speaking of the ‘collusion’ RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said, before the strike action was announced:

In the wake of the news that the Association Of British Commuters  legal challenge to the Government’s handling of the Southern Rail contract is now going into court on 29th June, there is no way that the RSSB, which prides itself on “our independent, evidence-based approach, built on strong technical capability” in its declared mission of  “driving improvements in health and wellbeing and delivering a safer, more efficient and sustainable rail system” can be seen as either credible or independent. It is clearly operating as a toxic combination of an arm of government and a secretive bosses club.

When such a senior rail safety figure blatantly admits bias and collusion with the Government over the extension of Driver Only Operation it is clear that the disputes on Southern, Northern and Merseyrail are wholly of the politicians making and without this ideological interference we could have negotiated settlements”.
“This admission that the RSSB has been doing the DfT’s dirty work for them for a long time knocks into a cocked hat the government’s ability to claim it cares one jot about the rights of vulnerable, older and disabled passengers”.

RMT’s executive is considering the next moves in the Southern, Northern and Merseyrail disputes but with this latest evidence, alongside the chaos of a minority government with no mandate to rip up the rail safety rule book, it is time for the expansion of Driver Only Operation to be called to an immediate halt right across the country.

Bravo to the RMT for its continued and determined campaign to resist the expansion of DOO, in which it has the support of a majority of public transport users in most areas.

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  1. A friend’s 28y old son with cerebral palsy was yet again unable to get off the train at his destination because there was no guard. Fortunately, the train was at the end of the route and the driver very reluctantly sorted out the ramp for the wheelchair. The driver was put in an impossible situation. He’s not trained to put down the ramp. I doubt that he has insurance and he was effectively ‘strike breaking’ … but what else could he do? He couldn’t abandon a wheelchair user, unable to get off the train and there were no staff on duty at the station. Needless to say, the train operator is Govia and Southern rail.

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