Safety concerns about Southern passengers are not ‘unwarranted scaremongering’, Lewes’ Lib Dem parliamentary candidate has said.
Earlier this week both Kelly-Marie Blundell and former Eastbourne MP Stephen Lloyd called on rail operator Govia Thameslink Railway to protect the safety of people, especially women, travelling on their train services, by guaranteeing a second member of staff on their services.
GTR has been locked in a bitter dispute with the RMT union for months over plans to change the role of conductors to on-board supervisors, with drivers left to open and close train doors.
The union has raised safety fears over the proposals, which it has argued could lead to GTR scrapping a guaranteed second member of staff on Southern services.
Southern described the intervention by the two Lib Dems as ‘unwarranted scaremongering’ and explained how as a ‘responsible operator’ it was improving levels of customer service on board its trains.
In response Ms Blundell said: “Not only is Southern failing to run a railway, they are now failing to address the very real concerns of their passengers.
“Many women travel late at night, alone, from London back to Lewes, Newhaven and Seaford, and it is a genuine concern that CCTV cannot intervene.
“To accuse those people, and the peole who raise those concerns publicly, of needless scaremongering, shows how little Southern Rail recognises the true needs of their passengers.
“We will continue to campaign for passenger safety, although I am sorry to say it appears Southern Rail simply are not listening.”
Earlier this week a Southern spokesman said: ““As a responsible operator, our priority is to improve levels of customer service on board our services, not make it worse. This is unwarranted scaremongering. We will have an On Board Supervisor on all the trains where we currently have conductors and more besides, and because they won’t be closing the doors, they will be better able to offer passenger assistance for everyone.
“There may be times when a second member of staff would not be available at short notice, such as sickness, but, unlike conductors, our On Board Supervisors will be able to work any route they are needed for, making it much easier to cover this eventuality. However, in exceptional circumstances we would be able to run the train with the driver only.
Under today’s arrangements those trains are cancelled, affecting not only the hundreds of passengers on that service but also many thousands more through the knock-on delays that result across the network.”
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