‘We must keep train guards’

Cllr Shelagh Finlay
Cllr Shelagh Finlay

Guards on trains simply have to stay in their job, says a Bridlington councillor.

Cllr Shelagh Finlay, who regularly uses the railway to get to meetings at County Hall in Beverley, wants East Riding of Yorkshire Council to write to Northern Rail, claiming the guards are essential way to keep passengers safe.

Many services will be cancelled on Saturday

Many services will be cancelled on Saturday

Staff are due to go on strike on Saturday, with unions and operators failing to reach an agreement.

Around two-thirds of services are set to be cancelled during the 24-hour action.

Cllr Finlay said: “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.

Cllr Finlay said conductors also take on the emergency protection duties of the train driver, should theybecome incapacitated in the event of an incident.

The Labour group in the council has highlighted a rail tragedy from more than 30 years ago to highlight the important work guards do

Nine people were killed at Lockington and 59 needed hospital treatment after a train collided with a car at a level crossing.

The driver was trapped in his cab but the guard was uninjured and, with a comprehensive knowledge of the Hull to Scarborough line, knew another train was due in the opposite direction, towards Bridlington, moments later.

He managed to alert the driver of the second train to the danger ahead and it stopped just short of the derailed carriages.

“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 guard on every train,” a Labour Group statement said.

“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.”