RAIL STRIKE: Buxton train workers walk out in ‘safety over profit’ row

Picketers outside Buxton train station were taking part in a 24-hour strike at the possible loss of guards on trains.
Picketers outside Buxton train station were taking part in a 24-hour strike at the possible loss of guards on trains.

Northern train drivers and guards walked out on a 24-hour strike on Monday in a row over the future role of guards as bosses want to trains to be operated solely by drivers.

Commuter trains were affected but those on the picket line stood their ground saying safety was more important than profit.

Union members put posters up around Buxton train station explaining why they went on strike.

Union members put posters up around Buxton train station explaining why they went on strike.

Speaking from the picket line at Buxton train station one member of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union said: “This strike isn’t about more money, it is about protecting passengers and keeping the trains safe for everyone to use.

“If there is only the driver on a train and someone pushes the alarm in the toilets nothing can be done until the train gets to the next station and the driver stops the train.

“Having a guard on the train means that we can check to see if the passenger is okay and checking that quickly could save someone’s life.”
Those on strike explained their job is not just stopping drunk anti-social behaviour but the little things such as telling a person with a bicycle where to go for the safety and comfort of everyone around and helping parents with pushchairs and people with suitcases on and off at the platform.

A union member said: “When carriages join up to form extra long trains there can be hundreds of people on board at peak times and being a guard standing in the middle of the platform means we can see what is going on but a driver at the end would not be able to properly see if everyone is on and safe.

Union members put posters up around Buxton train station explaining why they went on strike.

Union members put posters up around Buxton train station explaining why they went on strike.

“This strike is about showing the importance of having a second set of eyes fully trained for any situation to help passengers.”

Northern - which also runs services between Manchester and Hadfield, as well as serving stations through the Hope Valley - operated a revised services across its network on Monday,

Mum Emma Spencer, from Buxton, was using the train to take her little boy to the National Football Museum in Manchester for the day.

She said: “I’m not worried about getting stuck in Manchester there are always buses to get back on and if I can’t get a bus I’ll ring my partner to come and pick us up the strike won’t ruin our day.”

Supporting the strike was Dr Richard Neville a university lecturer in Manchester. He said: “Guards on trains do so much to make journeys safer for everyone and people need to realise getting rid of them would be a dangerous thing to do.”

Richard Allan, Deputy Managing Director at Northern, said: “We focused our planning efforts on maintaining a train service on our busier routes between 7am and 7pm, and provided replacement bus services on some routes where trains won’t run.”

Northern said it had more than 100 trained managers and other colleagues who carried out some conductor duties to help operate the revised timetables during the strike.