General Secretary Mick Cash said.
“The Office of Road and Rail are claiming to be an independent safety body when in fact they are a department of the government made up of Tory appointees and funded by the transport industry.
“Despite their own reports highlighting over 20 serious safety failures they claim that, with remedial action, Driver Only Operation can be made safe .
“Any other industry that had over 20 serious safety failures would be put under special measures immediately but with the government itself pushing Driver Only Operation it is no surprise to us that this whitewash of a report has appeared on the eve of a strike.
“The ORR didn’t even have the decency to speak to the RMT when compiling their report to get the workforce side of events and instead concentrated only on the opening of doors and not on the far wider guards role of evacuating a train during an accident, fire or terrorist incident and a suite of other safety competencies.
“The recent derailment at Watford, where the guard evacuated the train alone, has been completely ignored which shows what a servile shambles the ORR really is. RMT will continue to fight for rail safety despite this coordinated attack from Government, their wholly-owned regulators and the rip-off train companies.”
“The ORR should also state that the orthodox train despatch with a conductor/guard is a safe method tried and tested and used in 70% of the railway network and Southern will continue to use it on their network with the authority of the ORR.”
“The ORR, DfT and Southern want to confine this issue to doors and train despatch yet the role of the conductor/guard ensures a superior and safer method of working as it ensures a second safety critical person on-board to deal with a range of safety issues such as driver incapacity, evacuations, traction current isolations. Coordination of emergency services protection of the train and a whole range of issue including passenger assistance and accessibility.
“Any settlement of this dispute or consideration of the development of safe train operations must fully encompass this agenda and cannot be be based on the dilution of the safe operation of trains in the interest of company profits and the government’s anti-union agenda.”