Train operators ‘talking rubbish’ on rail assaults, says RMT
RMT: February 14, 2007
TRAIN OPERATORS who say that violent crime on the railways has fallen are talking “complete and utter rubbish”, Britain’s biggest railway union said today.
The Association of Train Operating Companies, quoted today as claiming that rising assault statistics were the result of changes in the way offences were recorded, should stop trying to turn the truth on its head and confront the problem, RMT said.
“It is no surprise to hear train-operating companies say that the figures are up because more are being reported – they’ve been saying that every year for a long time,” RMT general secretary Bob Crow said today.
“But RMT members up and down the country are telling us that the assaults and abuse are getting worse, and the statistics tell the same disturbing story of a year-on-year rise.
“Our members are the ones who know, because they are the ones who have to get out there every day and night and face it – unlike the executives who are trying to kid us that it’s just down to a change in the way things are reported.
“Pressure to maximise profits means constant attacks on staffing levels, but rail workers and passengers alike want to see more trained, uniformed staff on all stations every moment they are open, and a guard on every train.
“Rather than attempts to turn the truth on its head we need zero tolerance of violence, proper enforcement of the railway bylaws and an adequately funded transport police force.
“The private operators say they encourage reporting, but our members tell us that they often make life difficult for those who report assaults.
“Bringing train operations back into public ownership as franchises expire would release cash currently removed from the industry as profits to help fund more staff.
“It is breathtaking to hear Tories bleating about railway violence, because it was they who handed the railways to the privateers who have been reducing station staff numbers ever since,” Bob Crow said
For further information contact Derek Kotz on 020 7529 8803 or 07939 595 092
Notes to editors: Train operators constantly say they encourage reporting of assaults, but RMT members tell a different story.
Staff are often left in fear of reporting incidents because of the worry that if they report too many they will be regarded as somehow unsuitable for their job, a source of trouble or even somehow responsible for the attacks upon them.
The vast majority of guards and station staff on Northern Trains last year signed a petition calling for specific measures against violence, and for the company to enforce the railway bylaws fully.
RMT members on Southeastern are fighting once more to stop the company de-staffing ticket offices, only a year after earlier attemps to close ticket offices and cut station were beaten by passenger protests and strike threats.
The Railway Safety and Standards Board has consistently turned down RMT’s requests for an operator-by-operator breakkdown of assaults.