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11.08.16

‘No evidence’ DOO services increase passenger harm, says RSSB

There is no evidence whatsoever to suggest that driver-only operated (DOO) trains pose increased risk of harm to passengers, the RSSB has said in the midst of an ongoing dispute over this very issue between Southern and rail union RMT.

The RSSB said its research showed no one has died as a result of being caught in train doors for over 15 years, and concluded that there is nothing to suggest DOO services, such as those Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) wants to implement as part of its contract, are problematic.

In fact, the safety board even said DOO operation could deliver some safety benefits by removing any possible miscommunication between the driver and guard when a train is being dispatched.

“​For over thirty years, thousands of trains have run each day in Britain with only the driver operating the doors,” an RSSB statement said. “Most commuter trains out of Liverpool Street, King's Cross, St Pancras, and suburban services from Victoria, Charing Cross, Cannon Street and London Bridge operate this way.”

It also argued that the lack of available evidence of DOO-related harm also reflects on the overall downward trend in passenger harm levels recorded on the railway. Considering the increasing number of journeys taken on the network, the rate of harm for passengers has dropped by around a quarter over the last decade.

But rail unions argue differently. Just this week, RMT launched a five-day strike – albeit cut short in the third day – in response to Southern’s plans to make its services DOO, going against what union members perceive to be the “safety critical role of the guard”.

Introducing DOO services is part of Southern’s franchise agreement, but it promised the union that it would still ensure there is either a traditional conductor or second member of staff on-board.

RMT had launched a similar five-day strike threat on ScotRail over plans to expand DOO services, but recently lifted this as the operator offered to keep conductors on its new electrified services.

(Top image c. Andrew Matthews)

 

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Comments

Lutz   11/08/2016 at 23:42

Driver-less trains are even safer given that they eliminate the factors due to human error which are a significant contribution to the cause of accidents.

Jerry Alderson   12/08/2016 at 20:47

RTM wrote "The RSSB said its research showed no one has died as a result of being caught in train doors for over 15 year." Whereas a guard has led to the death of a passeger. A guard in Merseyside was sentenced to five years in prison for the death of a young woman in 2011. @Lutz. I travelled on my first 'driverless' (i.e. UTO, which is GoA4) train last week on the Paris Metro (both lines 1 and 14 - admittedly both rubber tyred traction using rail for guidance). In terms of timing it was fantastic. No member of staff on board anywhere. I'd be happy to travel on such systems, and intend to use them in other countries. Note: DLR is not truly driverless. It is only GoA3 - on-board staff give right-away to computer.

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