Protest for guards to stay on Southern Rail trains

Pupils in Fareham and Gosport to create posters to promote improving air quality

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UNION members protested outside a train station as part of the long-running Southern Railway dispute they say is about safety.

Members of The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) met representatives from the Portsmouth Trades Union Council (TUC) and other supporters.

Members of the RMT and other unions gathered at Portsmouth and Southsea train station to protest about Southern's plans for driver-only operated trains

Members of the RMT and other unions gathered at Portsmouth and Southsea train station to protest about Southern's plans for driver-only operated trains

Together, they asked people outside Portsmouth and Southsea train station to register their opposition to driver-only operated trains, with their local MP.

Jon Wood, president of the TUC, said: ‘We’re raising the profile about why guards are needed on trains. Safety comes before profits and taking guards off trains would put passengers at risk.

‘We already see situations where people slip into diabetic comas, get dragged underneath trains, or get caught in doors. There’s also an issue for people with disabilities getting on and off trains.

‘What’s proposed is all about saving costs, which puts safety at risk. It would affect everyone using the trains.’

Supporters handed out freepost postcards to passers-by and wore badges.

Mick Tosh, from the Wessex RMT, said: ‘A new set of duties could be issued to a driver, whereby they have to start monitoring cameras instead of driving a train.

‘A ridiculous scenario is that they should keep an uninterrupted vision of the platform while they leave the station – that begs the question, how do they look at the station, and the signals and the track to drive the train?

‘The company would say it’s safe to run a train without a guard – it is – just like a plane can fly without a pilot, it doesn’t mean it should because things can go wrong.’

Sam Tarrant, 28, teaches at the University of Portsmouth. He said: ‘I think the strikes and petitions are justified, the RMT are sticking up for the safety of the public.

‘There are drunks on trains in the evenings, guards can serve as a form of protection to make people feel safer.’

Aslef leaders have reached an agreement with Southern Railway and are going to recommend their members accept a new deal.