Socialist Worker

Safety shame for Southern Railway

by Raymie Kiernan
Issue No. 2537

Guards on Southern have struck for safety—latest incident shows they were right to

Guards on Southern have struck for safety—latest incident shows they were right to (Pic: Socialist Worker)


A disabled woman was left stranded on a freezing train station platform for two hours by Southern railway, it emerged last week.

It was a consequence of Southern bosses’ imposition of new driver only operated (DOO) routes, which axe train guards and don’t guarantee a second safety-trained staff member on trains.

“The train pulled up and the doors opened, but no one came to assist me,” said Sandra Nighy.

“The driver then got out of his cab to say there was no onboard supervisor on the train and he was not trained to help me. I could see he felt really bad.

“The whole situation was horrible and embarrassing, and it is unforgiveable when I had booked assistance 48 hours in advance.”

Sadly Sandra’s treatment is not a one-off. It highlights why rail unions, passenger groups and disabled activists are against the extension of DOO.

Jeopardising

But Southern’s owners, Govia Thameslink Railway, are pressing ahead regardless and jeopardising safety for all passengers, as well as undermining accessibility for disabled and older people.

Train guards in the RMT union were set to walk out for 24 hours on Monday next week. The Aslef union suspended three days of drivers’ strikes next week for talks with bosses, brokered by the TUC.

The service on Southern has been exposed as woeful for more than a year.

Yet the press focuses solely on tales of travel “chaos” and “misery” instead of investigating the role of the Tory government in drawing out this dispute.

There is no real scrutiny of the company either. An overtime ban by Aslef is having a massive impact and 25 percent of services are being cancelled as a consequence.

Govia has not recruited enough drivers to run a proper service and relies on drivers working on their rest days. Aslef says the firm is short of a whopping 300 drivers.

Back the Southern strikers’ fight for safety and get down to a picket line next week.


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