Labour Group Motion to Council – Northern Rail
5 April 2017
That this Council, in the interests of the residents of the East Riding, agrees to write to Northern Rail requesting that they retain train guards on board every northern train.
Comments from Councillors Moore & Finlay
At the moment, guards are “safety-critical staff”. They are responsible for checking the doors prior to departure and generally keeping the train and the passengers safe;staying in touch with the control room; and standing ready to respond to alarm calls from passengers or the driver. Current attempts to reduce the hours, and duties, of platform and ticket office staff means your late night journey home is ever more likely to be a lonely one, with no-one to help you if you are in difficulty, lost, or threatened and no-one to notice if you need help. This is a prospect, as a lone, female traveller, I do not look forward to.
Safety critical conductors also take on the emergency protection duties of the Train Driver should the driver become incapacitated in the event of an incident.
On 26 July 1986 at Lockington, between Beverley and Driffield, a four coach unit, travelling from Bridlington to Hull, collided with a motor vehicle on Lockington level crossing. The train was completely derailed and seriously damaged. Nine people were killed and 59 people were hospitalised. The driver of the train was seriously incapacitated and trapped with the cab.
The guard on this train was uninjured and, having a comprehensive knowledge of the Hull to Scarborough line and being fully trained to deal with such issues, jumped from the train and made his way to check on the driver who, he found, was unconscious.
The guard was also aware that another train was shortly due, in the opposite direction, for Bridlington.
Owing to the derailed train being foul of the opposite line, he knew it was imperative that he halt the oncoming train, so he ran down the track and managed to stop the Bridlington bound train, which was approaching at speed. The driver saw the danger signals from this guard and managed to stop his train just short of the derailed unit, thus preventing what would have been a huge loss of life; there were approximately 120 people on the train.
In conclusion, without the expertise, knowledge and quick thinking of this guard there would have been a catastrophe of huge magnitude, which is precisely why there is a need for a guardon every train.
After all these years this railway line is still operating, and the same conditions exist at Lockington as they did that fateful day.
Driver-only train operation is being spun as modern and safe, but beneath the spin it is nothing more than a money-saving attack on everyone’s safety. Let us all fight to retain our guards. Any saving will not be passed on to the travelling public. Please support the Motion.
Unfortunately the ruling Conservative Group did not think that this subject warranted discussion, or a letter to Northern Rail. Instead it referred the whole matter to a scrutiny committee, without discussion. Due to the huge majority it holds on the Council this was passed, much to the disappointment of the Labour Group, whose whole objective was to protect the safety of residents.
Proposed by Councillor Keith Moore (mobile: 07737 586949)
Seconded by Councillor Shelagh Finlay