A ‘zombie apocalypse’ would be one of the only times a Southern train would run without a second guaranteed member of staff on board, according to one rail union.
Train drivers’ union ASLEF has reached an agreement with Govia Thameslink Railway over the introduction of driver-only operation, where drivers are responsible for opening and closing train doors.
But the RMT union labelled the deal a ‘shocking and historical betrayal’, arguing that passengers had lost a second guaranteed member of staff on Southern services.
But ASLEF’s members were briefed on the agreement suggesting there had been ‘serious misunderstandings about this deal’.
Simon Weller, ASLEF’s assistant general secretary, said: “As drivers, we want a second safety-critical person on every train and that is what we have got. This deal guarantees a second person on Southern trains.
“There are some exceptions, to allow trains to run without a second safety-critical person, and they are the same as they are at the moment, with two exceptions: [i] unauthorised absence, such as when an OBS [on-board supervisor], who has been booked, has a flat tyre at very short notice on the way to work, and a train can be run driver only while they find another OBS; [ii] a pandemic, a sort of ‘zombie apocalypse’, but such mass sickness will, of course, affect drivers as much as other grades.”
He added: “The company wanted driver only operation, but that is not what it has got. Drivers might operate the doors but Southern Rail trains will run, with rare exceptions, with two safety-critical people on board.
“Looking to the future, we want to negotiate – we will do a deal – but we are not going to have new working conditions imposed. Southern knows that now.”
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