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Transport workers union the RMT to call for Greater Anglia to be stripped of its franchise

PUBLISHED: 12:47 20 October 2017 | UPDATED: 12:47 20 October 2017

Photo: Sonya Duncan

Photo: Sonya Duncan

ARCHANT EASTERN DAILY PRESS (01603) 772434

Transport workers union the RMT is to call for train operator Greater Anglia to be stripped of its franchise at a meeting in Norwich tonight.

The call comes after the Office of Rail and Road said its inspectors found failings in a number of areas in Greater Anglia’s use of replacement guards during industrial action carried out by RMT on October 3 and 5 over the role of guards and driver-only trains.

Greater Anglia has said it would never compromise the safety of passengers and said during the strike days its conductors safely ran more than 1,000 services.

The RMT (Rail, Maritime and Transport Union) had written to the Office of Rail and Road raising concerns, to which the ORR replied saying that, with regards to training procedures for contingent guards, two ORR inspectors had “identified a number of areas with deficiencies that need to be addressed, including: planning procedures, risk assessment, training and safety validation.”

The letter, signed by HM Chief Inspector of Railways Ian Prosser, said: “AGA [Greater Anglia] have acknowledged the failings in the above areas and have agreed that contingent staff will not be used until the issues have been rectified to the satisfaction of ORR.”

In advance of speaking alongside shadow chancellor John McDonnell at a public meeting on the railways in Norwich this evening, RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “RMT is now calling for the Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling to intervene to protect passengers and workers from Greater Anglia’s appalling disregard for safety and strip the company of the franchise.”

He added: “Even the rail safety regulator, which is funded by train companies, has been forced to admit that Greater Anglia’s strike breaking operation was riddled with safety deficiencies and failings which meant that passengers and staff who were on Greater Anglia services on strike days on October 3 and 5 were placed at severely increased risk.”

He said the RMT would also be highlighting the issue with MPs and of Greater Anglia’s Dutch state rail owners.

Richard Dean, Greater Anglia’s director of train service delivery, said: “We are working with the Office of Rail and Road to take them through the full range of contingency arrangements we put in place in order to run a full service for our customers during RMT industrial action. The conductors used on the RMT strike days received the same standard of safety training as our usual conductors. We informed the ORR of our contingency plans before the RMT strike days.

“ORR carried out inspections around the Greater Anglia network on the second day of RMT strike action and observed Greater Anglia operate a full service with no incidents whatsoever. We will never compromise the safety of our customers. During the two RMT strike days our conductors safely ran over 1,000 services.”

Greater Anglia has said it has no plans to remove conductors from its trains and has guaranteed their future until the end of the franchise in October 2025.

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