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Sandy raises rail franchise fears in House of Commons

Ipswich MP, Sandy Martin took the opportunity in yesterday's debate on rail franchising to raise concerns about the removal of guards from local train services.

He also pointed out that many of our privatized train services are not privatized at all, but run by nationalized companies of foreign governments.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Sandy said: "In my region, Abellio is running some trains with guards and some without. It is using its plans to introduce new trains in East Anglia as an excuse for threatening to remove guards’ ability to supervise the closing of the doors. I have a great fear that my constituents’ travel needs will be sacrificed on the altar of the rail operator’s intransigence. Abellio is quite capable of running brand new, safe and viable trains with guards who fully supervise the train, including by closing the doors. It can do that in Scotland and do it in the Netherlands.

"The Conservatives say that our train operators are better than they would be if they were state owned, but many of our train operators are state owned — just not by this state. Dutch democratic decision takers believe that passengers in their country deserve rail services that involve guards ensuring the safe closure of doors, but here in England, Abellio is awarded a franchise that is based on the removal of that safety measure, and once the franchise is awarded, the Government claim that any disruption caused by industrial action is nothing to do with them. The franchising system reduces every decision to what the train operator can afford to do within the franchise it has agreed. I want a railway based on the best interests of passengers and of our country."

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commented 2018-01-13 15:48:25 +0000
Please remember it’s the safety of the train and passengers that is the guard’s first and foremost role. This is what Abellio are trying to remove from them as well as trying to pave the way to removing them altogether by planning to run all trains as Driver Only Operation. They say to the public that they will keep guards, but yet they won’t guarantee (in talks with RMT) a guard on every train.

So if you are a wheelchair user, visually impaired, or need assistance in any way at all, and your train arrives without a guard then guess what? Tough. If you’re on a train, and someone commits a crime (this could be an attack on yourself or theft of your belongings) and you need someone of authority but your train has no guard, guess what? Tough. Also bear in mind the guard walking through the carriages is enough to deter most people from committing a crime. Statistics prove all of this, crime reports are vastly higher on Driver Only trains than those with guards. They also prove that the number of serious accidents to passengers when boarding/leaving trains are vastly higher on trains where doors are operated by the driver.

Abellio claim that by freeing the guard from door duties provides more time for customer service. A couple of minutes extra at the cost of safety?? That’s obviously not the real reason.

At the end of the day, we pay high prices for train travel, we have the right to have a guard on our train to help us and keep us safe.

Keep the guard on the train, keep the train safe!

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