I’m a Train Driver – and until recently I was very proud of the job I do.
You see, I work for Southern Railway. This is a good company with good people working hard every day to try to give our passengers a service that they pay dearly for. They rightly expect and deserve a good, efficient train service, but as you have seen and heard recently there is trouble brewing, not just here in Southern but right across the industry.
The award of the new Contract in July 2015 to Govia Thameslink Railway is the thing that is causing a lot of pain across our industry. This new Contract is different from the standard franchise agreements awarded since the privatisation of the railways in the ‘90s. In my opinion, this is as a result of the wording of the Contract that has been negotiated with the Department for Transport who has applied the findings of a report that was completed in 2011 following a detailed investigation into the cost of our railway and comparing it to that of continental Europe.
Employees’ contracts, job roles and job titles are quietly being changed, manipulated and tweaked so as to allow the next Contract holder the means to significantly reduce staffing numbers in future Contracts by making them redundant or by not filling vacancies.
The job title of Guard is being changed to On Board Supervisor. Before, if the Guard wasn’t available the train couldn’t run. But now with the new job title if the OBS doesn’t turn up for work the train will still run. Great news if you don’t need help…… But if you need help to purchase tickets, need travel information, or are a vulnerable person, or a mum with buggy and baggage etc. you will be on your own!
Watch out! Your safety is being sacrificed by the Government for profit!
“Realising the Potential of GB Rail” is a heavy tome to plough through, so may I suggest you read pages 192-215 – People. This will give you a flavour of who and what is the driving force behind the changes we are seeing…… changes that will erode and destroy our Railway, and at a time when we have increased numbers of passengers, a network capacity that is full to bursting and a security situation that makes me shudder when I think about the terrorist attacks on transport systems across the globe.
It’s not about ‘if’. It’s about ‘when’ it will happen here again!
A train operator doesn’t own trains; they are leased from private companies. The Government owns the stations, the Government owns the railway infrastructure and the Government owns the tracks. The Government pays for the service we provide and the staff is all we have in our privatised part of the Railway; they are at the heart of everything we do. But, to save money the Government, via the DfT, is coming after our staff – the men and women that provide a service you, our passengers.
So when I came across John McTernan’s article in The Telegraph recently, I was so perplexed as to how a person with such extensive knowledge could be so ignorant of what is going on in our industry that I had to put fingers to keyboard in an attempt to educate readers. This is what John McTernan is reported to have said:
If it wasn’t for Trade Unions John McTernan would have no Labour Party to advise!
A ‘not-so proud’ Train Driver