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Train guards’ strike would not affect services – Greater Anglia bosses

PUBLISHED: 13:07 24 August 2017 | UPDATED: 13:48 24 August 2017

Richard Dean of Greater Anglia. Picture: GREATER ANGLIA

Richard Dean of Greater Anglia. Picture: GREATER ANGLIA

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A threatened strike by conductor/guards on some Greater Anglia trains should not affect services, the company has insisted.

Greater Anglia's new Greater Anglia's new "Stadler Flirt" Intercity trains due to enter service in two years' time. The train doors will be controlled by the driver, not the guard. Picture: GREATER ANGLIA.

The guards are currently being balloted over strike action by the Rail, Maritime and Transport union over Greater Anglia’s plans to ask drivers to ensure the doors are shut on the new trains that are due to be introduced on the network from 2019.

The threatened strike action would only affect about 40% of Greater Anglia services. The union agreed to the introduction of driver only operation (DOO) trains on suburban services running to Essex, Ipswich and Cambridge many years ago.

Greater Anglia Director of Train Service Delivery Richard Dean is confident that even if conductor/guards do vote to strike, it should not affect the operation of InterCity and rural services that still rely on them.

He said: “We are training other members of staff to take on these roles if they have to, to keep the services running. We really don’t want that to happen – but if it does then the trains should continue to operate as normal.”

The company has 222 conductor/guards and back-office staff including IT and customer relations staff were being trained to take over the roles if necessary.

Mr Dean emphasised there was no threat to the jobs or salaries of conductor/guards. They would retain responsibility for the safety of passengers.

He said the only difference is that on the new trains there is a button to close the doors in the driver’s cab – and the driver can see what is happening to the doors through CCTV cameras on the side of the train.

He added: “There is absolutely no threat to any jobs. They are guaranteed until the end of the Greater Anglia franchise in 2025 – and we are currently recruiting more guards because we will be running more trains.”

The ballot over industrial action is currently open and closes on September 12. If there is a vote for a strike or other action, the earliest it could start is the end of September.

In a letter to his members recently, RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “The union has a long standing policy against any extension or introduction of DOO.

“Our position has always been that the guard should be in operational control of the doors and they have a vital safety role for passengers and the railway in general.”

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