The value of having guards on trains has been illustrated by an incident in which a brick was thrown from a bridge, leaving the driver needing help to get to a nearby station, a union has said.
A South Western Railway (SWR) service was struck by an object near Basingstoke yesterday, smashing the windscreen.
The guard went to the driver’s cab to help him take the train to Basingstoke station.
The Rail, Maritime and Transport union said the incident proved the value of having guards on trains - the issue which has sparked a series of disputes at companies including SWR.
RMT members on SWR and Southern will strike for 48 hours from November 8 during rows over the role of guards and driver-only trains.
General secretary Mick Cash said: ‘This was a shocking incident that could have had fatal consequences and if, as suspected, it was caused by a brick thrown from a bridge, RMT would expect every effort to be made to find those responsible and bring them to book.
‘The incident also shows in the clearest possible terms the value of the guard on South Western Railways.
‘As SWR themselves admit it was due to the guard taking up the second man position in the cab that the driver was able to guide the train into the station, despite the smashed windscreen.
‘It is appalling that, despite incidents like this, the train companies are still trying to remove the guard, with exactly these kind of safety competencies, from their trains.
‘I would urge South Western Railway to study this incident carefully, reverse their current plans and give us the guarantee of the guard on their trains that we have been asking for.’
An SWR spokesman said: ‘We can confirm that the 14.59 South Western Railway service from Portsmouth Harbour to London Waterloo was struck by an object apparently thrown from an overbridge yesterday approximately three miles from Basingstoke station.
‘The windscreen was severely damaged, so much so that the guard took up the second man position in the driver’s cab to assist the driver in getting the train the short distance to the station.
‘The train terminated at Basingstoke and passengers were able to complete their journeys on an alternative SWR service. We condemn the actions of those responsible for this incident and commend the actions of our staff.’
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