Doncaster commuters could be faced with disruption on the trains following the threat of a looming dispute on First Great Western and East Coast routes from rail union, The RMT.
The RMT says the dispute could arise over threats to guards, catering and maintenance jobs, following the introduction of the new Hitachi fleet which the union has warned could lead to an axing of guards, buffet cars and the hiving-off of train maintenance.
Under the Intercity Express Programme (IEP) signed off by the Government, the new fleet, built in Japan and reassembled in the North East by Hitachi, has the capacity to run on Driver Only Operation – removing the guards – would strip out buffet cars to cram in more seats and could lead to the current in-house fleet maintenance being hived-off to a third party.
Mick Cash, RMT acting general secretary said: “It defies belief that anyone in their right mind would seriously consider running these inter-city services on a driver-only basis but the design of the fleet allows for just that in terms of the control panels. RMT has made it perfectly clear that we are opposed to the extension of DOO on ANY rail services and with fights already in hand on the northern franchises and Thameslink/Southern we are now hard-wiring First Great Western and East Coast into that campaign.
“It is sheer profiteering to strip out the buffet cars and replace them with trolleys. Not only does that undermine the service to passengers but it also denies staff their one place of refuge and rest on these long-range routes.
RMT has written to the Government with three core demands:
- That the guards be retained on all inter-city services.
- That the buffet cars be retained on inter-city services
- That the fleet maintenance be retained in-house
They have also placed the same demands on the current franchise holders on both Great Western and the East Coast.