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Stop the strikes on Southern Rail

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“What’s the dispute about - Passenger Safety” (RMT press release August 2016)

I am a commuter travelling to London daily and I want to petition RMT and ASLEF to stop the strikes and overtime ban.

The Unions have not been telling the whole truth and there is no justification on safety grounds for the joint strike which is seriously affecting ordinary peoples’ ability to work, attend doctor and hospital appointments and get to school or college.


DOO - Driver-Only Operation, sometimes known as Driver-Controlled Operation (DCO), describes a way of operating trains where only the train driver has responsibility for opening and closing the doors and dispatching the train from a station.

ORR – Office of the Rail Regulator

RAIB – Rail Accident Investigation Branch

RSSB – Rail Safety Standards Board


  • ASLEF and RMT have misled the public by telling half truths
  • ORR, RAIB and RSSB all say DOO train can be safe
  • ORR report 5 January confirms Southerns proposals for DOO are Safe
  • ASLEF and RMT have ignored the statement by Southern that all trains currently with guards will continue to have a safety trained member of staff on board
  • ASLEF and RMT oppose DOO and DCO/DDO under any circumstances – this implies they won’t negotiate with Southern even if it is safe.
  • Current rates of accidents boarding or alighting from DOO trains are 1:250 million

Sign now to end the misery of Southern Commuters

If you want to see the evidence and links to the original sources of information to support these statements read on.


Extract from RMT website

"What they (Southern) are not telling passengers is that the increased risk to passengers of DOO has even been recognised by the RSSB.

RSSB have said

“DOO does not create additional undesired events but may increase the likelihood of an event occurring or increase the severity of its consequence."


What the RMT did not report, is that the RSSB also said:

“However, with the right technical and operational mitigations the analysis has considered the provision of DOO(P) to be safety neutral

http://www.rssb.co.uk/library/research-development-and-innovation/research-brief- T1035.pdf

THE RSSB website also says

In fact, the removal of any possible miscommunication, which could exist between driver and guard could, potentially, deliver some safety benefits. If we had found evidence to suggest that DOO was not safe when done correctly, we would say so.


ORR letter to MPs

DOO can be operated safely, provided that as with all forms of train dispatch, suitably maintained equipment, proper procedures and competent, trained staff are in place;


ORR report on DOO Operation on Southern Rail 5 january 2017 (para 18.)

ORR is satisfied that with suitable equipment, procedures and competent staff in place the proposed form of train dispatch intended by GTR-Southern, meets legal requirements and can be operated safely.


Extract from RAIB Investigation into Hayes and Harlingon accident – see below

Although our investigations cover too small a sample for us to draw conclusions about the relative safety of different methods of train dispatch, we have found no evidence to suggest that driver only operated trains cannot be dispatched safely. However, as for all methods of train dispatch, safety is dependent on:

1.the provision of suitable equipment (eg cameras and CCTV monitors)

2.rigorous compliance with safety rules by trained operating staff

3.effective management of risk at stations, particularly where visibility is poor or platforms are crowded.



In other words safety is NOT an issue as long as the right technical and operational methods are adopted.


Extract of RMT Press release August 2016

……..passengers are guaranteed that there will always be a Conductor to protect the safety of the train and passengers and also assist passengers in the event of an incident, accident or emergency.


Extract from ASLEF web site

We will get better services for passengers …….. not by downgrading guards, taking them off trains and leaving drivers to manage trains on their own, something they are not prepared to do, given the risk to passengers.


Extract of Southern Rail Bulletin August 2016

(Southern Rail)

1 Guarantees that every train currently operated with a conductor will continue to have either a traditional conductor or a second member of staff on-board;

2 Guarantees traditional conductors will retain their current competencies and second members of on-board will be trained to safety-competent standards including track safety training, evacuation, traction and full route knowledge (excluding train dispatch) which will pass to the driver;



I.e. there will be safety trained staff on board to manage the train and assist when something does go wrong, the only difference is that in future, door operation will be controlled by the driver.


RMT Dossier June 2016 – The Safety-Critical Role of the Guard


“Removing them (guards), or downgrading their role, is a lethal gamble with passenger safety.

Since January 2011 there have been 10 serious incidents at the Passenger/Train Interface [PTI] that have been or are subjected to investigation by the RAIB

28.01.2011 - Brentwood Station Passenger fall between train and platform - DOO

10.10.2011- King’s Cross Station Body part trapped in door, passenger dragged along -DOO

22.10.2011- James Street Station Fatality. Fall between trains and platform - Non-DOO

12.04.2012 - Jarrow Station Body part trapped in door, passenger dragged along - DOO

24.11.2012 - Charing Cross Station Passenger fall between train and platform - DOO

05.06.2013 - Newcastle Central Station Body part trapped in door, - Non-DOO

03.02.2014 - Holborn Station Passenger clothing trapped in door, dragged along - DOO

12.03.2015 - Clapham South Station Passenger clothing trapped resulting in fall between train and platform - DOO

10.04.2015 - West Wickham Passenger backpack trapped resulting in fall between train and platform - DOO

25.07.2015 - Hayes and Harlington Passenger body part trapped in door Dragged along - DOO


The only fatality was the third one on this list and was not on a DOO train.

So the RMT statement that DOO operation is a “lethal gamble” is misleading.

Note2 of the incidents recorded here involve tube trains– (Holborn and Clapham South).

The RMT Dossier also provides examples of many occasions where the guard has made a difference in operational accidents. But if Southern Rail honour the commitments outlined in their bulletin of August 2016, safety trained on-board members of staff could provide the same levels of assistance


Extract from ASLEF/RMT joint press release November 2015

We are completely opposed to Driver Only Operation and its forms, including Driver Controlled Operation (DCO) and Driver Door Operation(DDO), throughout the network. We firmly believe this method of operation is less safe for passengers and the workforce and our unions will not agree to the extension of DOO or DCO /DDO under any circumstances.


Extract from ASLEF Press release 28 November

Mick Whelan, Aslef's general secretary, said: "We have genuinely sought to reach a compromise with Southern. We have always been prepared to talk to the company and we have always been of the view that it should be possible to do a deal, but it takes two to tango and the company has not been prepared to negotiate."



How can ASLEF genuinely seek a compromise and be preaperd to negotiate if they will not agree to DOO or DCO/DDO operation under any circumstances? It may take two to tango but it sounds like ASLEF are not even prepared to go to the ball


Extract of ORR report on train journeys


The number of passenger journeys on franchised rail services in Great Britain reached 1.654 billion in 2014-15.


30% of trains in the UK are DOO. So, approximately 500 million journeys are on DOO trains. There were 2 accidents involving door operations on DOO Franchised trains during this period (i.e. excluding tube trains).

On this basis the chances of a platform accident on a DOO train are roughly 1:250 million!

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