February 19, 2010 02:00 ET

As ScotRail Staff Prepare to Strike This Weekend RMT Lays Out Damning Safety Case Against Driver Only Operation

GLASGOW, UNITED KINGDOM--(Marketwire - Feb. 19, 2010) - As drivers, conductors and sleeper train managers on First ScotRail prepare for the first dates in three weeks of strike action this weekend over the defence of the role of the Guards on the new Airdrie/Bathgate line, rail union RMT set out a summary of some of the key points of the safety case against Driver Only Operation which will form part of a detailed report to the Scottish Transport Minister.

While the detailed report will be submitted to the Scottish Government next week, RMT have today outlined some critical examples from the final document which reinforce the safety case against Driver Only Operation:

- Finnieston West Junction Derailment - September 1990

The presence of a well trained Guard and the role he/she can play in containing and minimising the effect of serious incidents was laid out by the then publicly owned Scotrail's report into the September 1990 derailment of a Motherwell-Balloch service at Finnestion West Junction.

The leading bogie of the rear coach derailed and ran for about 280 metres before coming to a halt after the Guard/Conductor alerted the Driver. No one was injured in the incident. The prompt action of the Guard in alerting the Driver and in applying the emergency break, bringing the train to a halt, was crucial in preventing an even more serious incident from occurring.

- Newton Junction Collision- July 1991

The July 1991 collision at Newton Junction, between the Newton-Glasgow and Balloch-Motherwell services, in which both drivers and two passengers were tragically killed, further highlights both the essential role played by the Guard and the inadequate training given to Ticket Examiners in respect of dealing with serious incidents.

The report into the collision explained that it was the guard on the Balloch-Motherwell train, and not the ticket examiner, who notified the signaller that a serious incident had occurred and who requested that the overhead power supply be switched off. The guard went on to safely evacuate the train and the adjacent track.

- Branchton Derailment and Collision - June 1994

Railtrack's November 1994 report into the circumstances surrounding the June 1994 derailment of the Wemyss Bay-Glasgow Central train at Branchton underlines RMT's concerns.

Staffing on the train was provided by a Driver and a Ticket Examiner, the same arrangements ScotRail is proposing for Airdrie-Bathgate. The accident itself was caused by the deliberate placing on the line of approximately nine reinforced imperial troughing lids from the S&T troughing route by vandals. The driver of the train and one passenger died as a result of the incident.

Evidence given to the inquiry into the incident by the Ticket Examiner, who in the report was rightly praised for his efforts to protect the train, raise the alarm and look after distressed passengers, indicated he had received a three week general safety course at the time he joined the railways. The course did not deal with accident procedure or train evacuation and the Ticket Examiner was also not trained in personal track safety or in the use of detonators.

- Near fatal incident avoided on Driver Only Operation service at Strood - December 2009

Only the intervention of an alert RMT safety rep, who happened to be on the platform at the time, avoided a near-certain fatality after a passenger slipped and fell down between the train and the platform. RMT has raised the incident with the Rail Accident Investigation Bureau and continues to campaign against the running of Southeastern's high speed services through Kent with Driver Only Operation.

RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said:

"Despite all the spin and hot air from ScotRail it remains the case that the dispute on their services, and the strike action this weekend, is simply about the company compromising safety by axing the Guards in order to save money.

"The company are prepared to ride roughshod over the terms of their contract with the Scottish Government, rip up existing agreements with the unions and ignore the overwhelming safety case against Driver Only Operation simply to save Pounds Sterling 300,000 that they can add to Pounds Sterling 18 million that they paid out in dividends to shareholders last year.

"We are striking for passenger and staff safety on Scottish railways and we challenge Scotrail to join us for meaningful talks aimed at settling this issue on the basis of existing agreements and the contractual commitments that they signed up to when they took on this franchise."

Note to Editors:

RMT Scotrail strike action:

All DRIVER AND CONDUCTOR members (NOT Sleeper Train Managers) are instructed
not to book on for any shifts that commence between:

- 00.01 hours and 23.59 hours on Saturday 20th February 2010
- 00.01 hours and 23.59 hours on Monday 1st March 2010
- 00.01 hours and 23.59 hours on Saturday 13th March 2010

All SLEEPER TRAIN MANAGER members (NOT Driver and Conductor members) are
instructed not to book on for any shifts that commence between:

- 19.59 hours on Sunday 28th February 2010 and 19.58 hours on Tuesday 2nd
March 2010
- 19.59 hours on Sunday 14th March 2010 and 19.58 hours on Tuesday 16th
March 2010

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