RMT’s (Rail, Maritime and Transport) ongoing strikes through October and December on Southern rail’s service, are damaging public trust with the company.
Plans to scrap train guards and replace them with ‘Driver Only Operated Trains’(DOOT) have been met with fierce opposition by the RMT union. Govia Thameslink Railways (GTR) the operating company of ‘Southern’, propose to disband the position of the safety critical conductor.
The union claims that by ending the ‘driver conductor operation’ passenger safety is at risk, in particular disabled passengers.
However, Southern argue that 15 years of independent research indicates that it’s safe for the drivers to be in charge of closing doors. With 30% of trains services across the UK already implementing this method of operation, along with 50% of all UK train operating companies, Southern maintain that this shows a clear progression towards ‘Driver Only Operated Trains’.
Local commuter, Anita Piam explained how the trust between commuter and operator has deteriorated. Her complete lack of faith in Southern was reflected by her rating of 3/10, after being asked what she rated Southern’s service. When asked how much she trusted the service, she responded with a resounding ‘0’. “I’ve been affected by each strike day, which has resulted in me having to get up even earlier, just so I can get my children into school on time”.
The negative impact the strikes are having on the public are also spilling over into other transport sectors. A bus driver in the Hastings area explained how passengers who have been told to use a bus replacement service constantly get confused with what the ticket is eligible for, which leads to delays in bus times and added stress for bus drivers.
It’s clear that the ongoing disagreement with the RMT and Southern is having adverse effects on the public’s satisfaction with Southern. With no trust and such disapproval of the service provided, a quick solution is needed from Southern, and with no progression seemingly being made, it would appear that Southern aren’t going to budge on the matter.