People are justified in feeling ‘rail rage’ [Herald, October 7], but it is important that this should be pointed in the right direction. The dislocation which a great many, including myself, have suffered over a period of several months all seems to stem from a decision by Southern Railway executives to abolish train guards, and resistance to that decision by railway workers.
There is a third group of people, far more numerous than the others combined, whose views require consideration: the passengers.
All three groups have been losing. Southern Railway has lost passengers and has been forced to pay compensation for late journeys. The railway workers have lost wages. The passengers’ travelling arrangements have been repeatedly disrupted and they anticipate much more disruption in the future. If all this loss could be assessed, it would amount to far more than any conceivable savings by the new plans.
As I see it, passengers’ interests coincide closely with those of the railway workers. Many of us have found the presence of a friendly and knowledgeable guard on our trains helpful. In the event of the driver or a passenger being taken ill, or an accident occurring, the presence of a guard could help everybody enormously and perhaps save lives. One has the uncomfortable feeling that all the present trouble stems from the obstinacy of a small number of company executives who refuse to revise their plans. Whether that is so or not, the time has come for the Government to intervene and put heavy pressure on Southern Railway to change its attitude.
If the people who control the railway will not do so, then special legislation may be required to take matters out of their hands.
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