Unstaffed railway stations putting passenger safety at risk, claims union
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Many of the UK’s rail stations are dangerously unstaffed, putting passengers’ safety at risk, the biggest rail workers’ union has said.
A report from the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) claims that only 10 per cent of rail stations are fully staffed, 45 per cent are only staffed some of the time while the remaining 45 per cent of stations are totally unstaffed.
Annual figures show that cumulatively millions of passengers pass through stations which are unstaffed for part or all of the day.
These including Barry Island in Wales (867,598 passengers), Dumbarton East in Scotland (453,010) and East Worthing in the South East (424,176).
The rail industry has countered the claims by saying more staff are employed than 20 years ago.
The RMT called on the Government to reverse “damaging” cuts to station and ticket office staffing. It has launched its 'Staff Our Stations' campaign, which has been signed so far by seven MPs (predominantly Labour). The campaign warns of rising crime levels on railway services, which is putting passenger safety at risk.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “It has never been more apparent that the privatised and fragmented railway has failed to deliver an affordable, accessible and reliable service for passengers.
“Violence on the railways is soaring, yet the private train companies continue to close ticket offices and cut staffing at stations. RMT is calling on the Government to prove that it is serious about improving the rail passenger experience.”
The union added that train companies were intentionally slashing staffing “in pursuit of profit, with no regard for the impact on passengers”.
A spokesman for the Rail Delivery Group, representing rail companies, said, “By working together to run more and better services, train operators are now able to employ over 50 per cent more people than 20 years ago.
“Britain’s railway remains one of the safest in the world and crime rates are low, but we are working with the British Transport Police to tackle any antisocial or violent behaviour by investing in new technology like body-worn cameras for front-line staff and encouraging the reporting of crime.”
In recent years, train companies have been introducing new technologies designed to reduce the need for station staff, including a Virgin app that connects passengers with control centre staff and smart ticket barriers that can detect passengers via an app on their smartphone.
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