Posted 1st March 2010 | 3 Comments

ScotRail denies ‘disruption’ claim on second strike day

SCOTRAIL is denying claims by the RMT union that the second 24-hour strike called in the ‘driver only operation’ (or DOO) dispute caused ‘major disruption’. “Better than nine out of ten trains ran,” a ScotRail spokesman said. However, the RMT is describing support for the walkout as ‘rock solid’.

Monday's strike was the second in three which were called after the union and ScotRail failed to agree on plans to use ticket examiners rather than conductor/guards on the Airdrie-Bathgate line, which is to due to open in December.

The RMT says abolishing guards puts safety at risk, but ScotRail pointed out that some trains have been running in Strathclyde with the driver in control of the doors for as long as 25 years.

The First Minister Alex Salmond has been asked to intervene, but he told the Scottish Parliament on Thursday that a similar arrangement had been agreed for the reopened Larkhall line four years ago. He appealed to both sides to reach a settlement.

ScotRail said its contingency plans meant that a full service ran on key routes, although in a few cases buses have replaced trains for the day.

ScotRail managing director Steve Montgomery said: “It is business as usual for Scotland’s railway. Our contingency plans are such that almost all our customers will not notice there is a strike. There are some service revisions due to the RMT’s bid to cause as much inconvenience as possible to our customers. However, we are ensuring the vast majority of travellers are unaffected.”

Meanwhile, the union is adamant that it will not give way. RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: “Our members are rock solid across Scotland in their strike action in defence of rail safety and the role of the guard. The RMT remains available for meaningful talks based on ensuring safety on Scotrail services in line with agreements dating back to 2001.”

Unless the dispute is resolved, a third strike is set to take place on 13 March.


Reader Comments:

Views expressed in submitted comments are that of the author, and not necessarily shared by Railnews.

  • jhnnybegood, London

    Railway lad is making out that the guard is the be ali and end all of safety on a train....get a grip. Guards / conductors /train managers, whatever name you care to give this group of staff are there mainly for a customer service role.

    Protection of the line duties are only carried out when the driver is incapacitated and there is no one else on the train who can cary out protection duties.

    Lets get things into perspecive, The NUR / RMT lost the argument of DOO in Scotland in strkes in 1985 and 1991. In 1991, Guards accepted two payments of 750 to accept their new commercial role.

  • Railwaylad, Glasgow, UK


    The facts are that in the event of a train collision or incident where the driver is killed then its the guards duty to protect the train and carry out evacution procedures if required.

    Ticket collectors have basic skills and are not qualified on how to protect a train, and there is occasions where a train runs without them.

    Bellgrove was a two fold incident where the guard belled the train away but it was the driver that did not check that the signal was on a proceed aspect before moving.

    TPWS ATWS are only as good if everything is working correctl and recent incidents have shown that it is still possible for a train collision to happen with these sytems fitted so do not get into the Titanic method of thinking that nothing can happen.

    There is more at stake than just operating doors.

    In 1989 it was agreed that the Strathclyde manning arrangement take place that allowed driver only operated trains within the Strathclyde PTE area with specialy modified radio equipment for the signaller or driver to contact each other at all times, this is now expanding with the Drumgelloch - Bathgate line only to save employing extra guards.

    Electrification of lines has no bearing on reduction of guards

  • Gordon, Glasgow

    I'm a rail commuter in Scotland and can't quite grasp the argument that the RMT is making regarding the role of the guard on trains, and why train services should be compromised in the name of protecting this role.

    My understanding is that trains designed, built and tested to support driver-only operation will be used on the re-opened Airdrie to Bathgate route and that this practice is normal across electric multiple unit stock operated in Scotland. My understanding is also that existing Bathgate to Edinburgh services operate with guards rather than ticket examiners.

    I have spent some time trying to understand the RMT point of view though, but have failed. The only incidents I can find which may be related to this might be the Bellgrove crash of 1989 and the Newton one in 1991; presumably a guard would not have closed the doors without authority to proceed thus preventing these

    Things seem to have moved on significantly since then though with the introduction of TPWS across all lines in the UK and ATP on certain high-risk lines. Moreover, these systems provide protection where a guard cannot because he cannot see and check every signal a driver passes. In short, the new system is better.

    The difference between the role of the guard and a ticket examiner seems to now come down to door control; guards slow down trains when busy as it takes too long for them to get to doors and cause cancellations and delays when they are not available for a train, but a driver is. Also, the additional oversight did not seem to provide much protection in the recent case of the drunk driver who operated out of Glasgow Queen Street for several hours. Given the technical advances in train protection, guards should be better placed to identify weaknesses in the human factors of railway operation. This didn't happen.

    Overall, my impression is that the RMT is actually worried about the plans for expanding electrification across Scotland, particularly Glasgow to Edinburgh, and both cities to Alloa and Dunblane which, along with the diversionary routes, would further diminish the number of guards in Scotland. This self-protection in the name of safety is something that I cannot idly stand by and bear the brunt of.

    If it's about jobs, the RMT should just admit it, let the line open when it's meant to and stop pretending that safety has anything to do with it.