If it ain’t broke, then don’t fix it

Bexhill Observer letters
Bexhill Observer letters

From: David Bourne, St Peters Crescent, Bexhill

Some eight years ago I left southern rail having been a train guard for seven years prior to that.

Throughout this time there was the constant threat of the removal of the role of train guard on board Southern trains so this decision has been simmering away for a number of years now.

The role of guard is not simply who opens and closes the doors on a train, the guard is responsible for the passengers and the driver for the train. This means that in any situation up to and including the driver being incapacitated, the guard will deal with the problem.

I had instances of assault between passengers, lost children, passengers stuck in doors and on one occasion, had to de-train passengers and lead them along the trackside in a safe manner onto a platform.

Luckily, I never had to deal with a fire or a driver injury or death but have heard of it occurring and at this point the guards lengthy safety critical training is invaluable to the well-being of train passengers. Without this level of training and in instances such as these, I wonder how the ‘on board supervisor’ would react.

The old adage ‘if it’s not broke, don’t fix it’ looms large as the current arrangement works very well and the training given to the guard puts them in a position of confidence to deal with whatever the railway system and the travelling public presents to them.

It appears that Southern wants to diminish the position of train guard or remove them altogether simply to save the cost of this extra person on board a train, plainly at the detriment to the safety of passengers.

In the case of opening and closing the doors, there are many stations on the network where, using cameras and tiny monitors, will not give a clear indication of all the possibly 24 sets of doors, being clear to safely close due to glare from the sun or other factors.

The concern to those who work on board trains has been and always will be the safety of passengers. No guard wants to deal with a passenger being assaulted or, god forbid, falling between the train and the platform, so in supporting the guard you are ensuring your own safety in travelling on Southern.

Supporting Southern means you are agreeing with them making more money at the cost of safety to you the travelling public.

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