Labour is set to scrap ‘driver only operation’, as demanded by transport unions, and guarantee the presence of a guard on every train to boost accessibility for older and disabled passengers.
Describing the practice of ‘DOO’ on the railway as “discriminatory”, Labour says it would ensure that there is always a second member of fully trained staff who can assist less able people with boarding.
The move would allow older and disabled rail passengers to “travel when they want with dignity, without booking ahead”, according to Labour. It would put an end to ‘DOO’, which has been expanded under the Tories.
Marsha de Cordova, the shadow minister for disabled people currently fighting to keep her seat in Battersea, said: “The Tories’ expansion of driver only operation is an attack on the rights of disabled passengers who have been denied of the ability to travel spontaneously…
“Labour will guarantee a guard on board every train to guarantee Turn Up and Go across the rail network so that older and disabled rail passengers can travel when they want with dignity, without booking ahead. Guards on every train will make train travel easier, safer and more secure for all passengers.”
Rail workers have long campaigned against DOO, where only one staffer – the driver – is on the train, and transport trade unions RMT and ASLEF have organised strikes in the past based on the point of contention.
Commenting on the policy announcement, general secretary of train drivers’ union ASLEF Mick Whelan added: “As the trade union which has fought for 30 years against the introduction of driver only operation on Britain’s railways, we are delighted that the Labour Party’s policy is to roll back DOO and guarantee a second safety-critical member of staff on every train.
“Passengers wants a guard on the trains on which they travel – to help disabled people get on and off, protect passengers, and evacuate the service in an emergency – as do drivers and platform staff. That’s why we welcome Labour’s decision to make Britain’s railways a safer railway system.”
DOO currently exists on all services run by Great Northern, Thameslink, c2c, London Overground, Heathrow Express, Nexus Tyne and Wear Metro, plus some of those run by GWR, Chiltern, Southern and Southeastern.
Unite the Union launched a manifesto today, Transport Matters, which supports moves away from privatisation and deregulation and towards public ownership of the rail and bus networks. It also specifically calls for the ban on councils forming new bus companies to be lifted, which Jeremy Corbyn has already indicated will be in the new manifesto.