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TSSA Statement Regarding The Role Of The Guard

27 October 2017

The RMT disputes are fundamentally about passenger (and staff) safety and security and are not as characterised by the media - just disputes about who opens and closes the train doors. ASLEF has also expressed concerns about these issues.

TSSA has members that have a direct interest in these issues. We have members who are guards, and members that are called upon to drive trains. TSSA represents most managers and supervisors that manage and supervise guards and drivers. These members care deeply about the safety of passengers.

Many of our numerous station staff members are crucial to ensuring the safety of passengers boarding and alighting from trains. The jobs of some of those are under threat, and far too many stations are unstaffed.

At a time when passenger numbers are at record levels and there is frequent overcrowding, making train drivers solely responsible for safety and security on trains inevitably increases risk, a point conceded by some industry leaders. The view of safety enforcer the ORR (and others) seems to be that passenger trains running with only one member of staff – the driver – on board are ‘safe enough’.

TSSA disagrees. ‘Safe enough’ is not good enough!

Drivers can't assist passengers getting on and off trains at unstaffed stations, and they are obviously unable to deal with or deter potential or actual assaults while the train is moving! And at this time of heightened security risk on the railways, drivers are not going to spot suspect devices from their cabs.

The recent derailment and consequent head on collision between two London Midland trains in a tunnel near Watford should ring alarm bells – with both drivers in no fit state to assist traumatised passengers, it was the guards that were in a position to assist them.

As passenger numbers continue to increase, it is more important than ever that trains are staffed by people other than just a driver, people that are trained in crisis management, can safely evacuate a train, provide emergency first response, summon assistance, protect the train, and deter assaults and terrorist attacks.

The rail industry professes to want to make access to rail services easier for those with disabilities and mobility difficulties in the name of equalities. This will only be possible if there are staff available at stations and on trains to assist them in boarding and alighting, and dealing with any incidents during their journeys. And removing a second person from trains will do nothing to deliver quality customer service!


There is no doubt that government-inspired proposals to remove staff from trains are driven entirely by the desire to cut costs. TSSA calls on the government and the rail industry to re-think the removal of staff from trains and ensure the industry’s proud safety record is maintained and built upon. 

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