Posted 19th March 2010 | 1 Comment

Fresh peace moves in long-running ScotRail dispute

SCOTRAIL has made a new move to end the dispute with the RMT over driver only operation, which has already resulted in three 24-hour strikes and fears of more disruption to come over Easter. Talks over train crew arrangements on the new Airdrie-Bathgate line broke down last month.

The RMT is opposing plans to use ticket examiners on the route on safety grounds, which is due to open in December after a £300 million investment. Instead, the union wants traditional conductor/guards to be employed, with responsibility for controlling the doors.

One problem is that the doors on the Class 334 units which are to be cascaded to the route do not have a conductors' door panel, and ScotRail said it would cost £1.4 million to install them. The company also pointed out that some trains in the Strathclyde region and the central belt have been running with the driver controlling the doors since the mid-1980s, and that more than half of all ScotRail trains are now operated like this. It has consistently denied that safety is being compromised.

However, in a bid to end the deadlock, ScotRail has now offered fresh guarantees on job security. It said that all existing conductors will remain as conductors at their present depot when the new line opens, and the total of conductor posts will be no less than the current number of 540 until November 2014, when the present franchise ends.

When FirstGroup began operating ScotRail in October 2004 there were 467 conductors. The company also promised that if the dispute is resolved there will be more trains between Glasgow Queen Street and Pertt, creating seven additional conductors' jobs, with the possibility of 12 more later on.

So far, there has been no comment from the RMT.

Reader Comments:

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  • Anonymous, NA

    Why is it the train can run the 35 miles from Helensburgh to Drumgelloch as Driver only operated, but as soon as it leaves Bathgate on the 19 mile journey to Edinburgh a conductor is needed? I presume the new section between Airdrie and Bathgate wil be driver only operated, just as the Larkhall branch has been since it opened a few years ago. No complaints when that opened!

    What is so special in the east of Scotland that they need a conductor?

    If the dispute is actually about securing jobs, why dont the RMT come out and say that. The safety case they put forward is immediatley contradicted by their acceptance of the driver only operated services in the west of Scotland. Also, there are no 'guards' employed by Scotrail, the staff they refer to are conductors and have been for some time.

    What will happen in the future when more lines become electrified, do customers have to suffer this dispute time and time again?