It's Not About The Doors!

Exposing DfT/Govia Lies


January 2017


To answer the  question ” should we be concerned by the on going talks between ASLEF and GTR ” we need to separate the question into two parts.

We should be concerned by GTR’s refusal to recognise the RMT’s right to be involved in these talks. This would appear to be an attempt by GTR  to ratchet up the tension between themselves and our Union and to create a rift between ASLEF and the RMT.

We should be less concerned by the prospect of ASLEF reaching an agreement  with GTR that would be in conflict with our own position. The RMT and ASLEF hold the same position of being totally opposed to any extension of DOO.

The following quotes from Mick Whelan, ASLEF General Secretary confirm this fact:

ASLEF statement regarding possible expansion of DOO made September 24 2015

Update ASLEF Statement:

“So there is no dubiety it is the policy of my organisation that there will be no agreement to extend DOO anywhere and even if DCO is agreed by other trade unions we will not be agreeing this method of operation either.”

– Mick Whelan, ASLE&F general secretary, 24 September 2015.

In November 2015 the following joint statement was released.

Joint ASLEF / RMT Statement opposing Driver Only Operation / Driver Controlled Operation:


“We are completely opposed to Driver Only Operation and its forms, including Driver Controlled Operation (DCO) / Drive Door Operation (DDO), throughout the network.


We firmly believe this method of operation is less safe for passengers and the workforce and our unions will not agree to the extension of DOO or DCO /DDO under any circumstances.


This includes recent proposals for DOO by Great Western in respect of the new IEP trains and the Governments proposals for DCO for the next Northern Rail franchise.


The responsibility of the driver of the train is to drive, which requires 100% focus. It is less safe for both the driver and passengers if the driver is distracted by additional duties such as protecting the platform train interface. The Guard / Conductor should retain responsibility for door operation.


We are particularly concerned for example that there have been a number of incidents in the last year across all sectors where even more pressure has been placed on drivers rather than questioning the safety of DOO. 


We are also opposed to DOO and DCO/DDO because its introduction would remove the current guarantee that passengers will always have a safety critical safety second person on the train who can not only deal with emergencies but can also provide general reassurance and assistance to passengers.


It is also essential for the safety of both the driver and passengers to have the guarantee of a Guard / Conductor on the train to protect the train driver and passengers in the event of driver incapacity.  This was demonstrated by a recent incident at Sutton Weaver where a driver received a severe electrical shock and was assisted by the Guard who was able to call for the emergency services and accompany a doctor who was travelling on the train to provide emergency first aid.


With record passengers numbers we now need more rail staff, not less. Services for passengers should be improved by investment in modern railway infrastructure and rolling stock – not by dismissing and deskilling Guards and placing event more responsibility on the driver.


We will campaign in unity to oppose any extension of DOO and DCO/DDO and to seek to explore ways of reversing it where it has been introduced. This will include making our views clear to the employers, government and other politicians.”


Mick Whelan                          

ASLEF General Secretary

Mick Cash  

RMT General Secretary          

Mick Whelan made the following statements in the Guardian on the 14th of January 2017:

  • “I haven’t seen one company director in the past 20 years who has got a fiduciary responsibility hauled in to the dock, had their job taken away or go to prison for it – but I have seen it happen to guards, platform staff and drivers.” 
  • “No. This isn’t purely about us believing in the protection of jobs, because they tell us they’re going to keep all these people. But they are going to take their safety skills away. They won’t be able to evacuate, lead people down a track if there’s a major incident, deal with anybody if a driver collapses.”
  • “We threatened a judicial review in Scotland about disabled access because the law in Scotland on transport access was far stronger than down here, and that helped us win. I believe Southern are suggesting that disabled people in England ring up 24 hours in advance of when they want to travel. The whole basis of the industry is ‘step on and go’. The idea that sectors of our community should have to book in advance when others don’t is anathema to me. Everybody should have the same access and rights to get on and off a train.’”

It is clear from these statements from Mick Whelan that ASLEF and the RMT are in full agreement regarding any solution for trains which were operating with a second Safety Critical person  prior to April  2016 and that is:


Providing ASLEF have the courage to  stand by their policy with it’s commitment to a Safe, Accessible and Secure rail network then we should have nothing to fear from the on going talks at the TUC.



A document found on a train:

ORR Report on DOO

No one should be surprised by what is contained in the ORR report. This report was produced by a supposedly independent Rail Regulator who had previously advised the Rail TOCs on the most cost effective method of introducing DOO.

DOO has always been viewed as a means of cutting costs for the industry. The ORR working on behalf of the TOCs and the DFT has, since before the infamous McNulty report, been laying the ground work for cutting costs with the introduction of driver only operation.

The main  point in the report which  must be challenged is the statement that DOO could be viewed as a safer means of operation than dispatch with a Conductor.

The argument that the ORR put forward to justify this position is that the Driver will be able to observe the platform train interface for “a short period of time” as the train departs the station something that a Conductor carrying out Vestibule dispatch would be unable to do. It is certainly a new approach to safety to suggest that a Driver of a vehicle moving forward should be concentrating on screens showing him what is happening behind him. It would still seem desirable to have Vestibule dispatch over DOO as this method at least allows the driver to concentrate on what is occurring in front of him with the conductor viewing the platform from the door panel until the train has cleared the station.

There is of course a third method which provides a safer means of dispatch than DOO or Vestibule.

Vestibule dispatch is Southern’s preferred method of dispatch and was enforced on Conductors by the Company.

The ORR are stating that DOO is a safer means of dispatch because Vestibule dispatch does not allow the Conductor sufficient visibility of the platform train interface as the train leaves the station. If this is correct then the question needs to be asked of the ORR why they allowed Southern to bring in Vestibule dispatch as their preferred method of operation  when there was a safer method available.

When the slam door stock were phased out and replaced with power door stock, the method of operation for train dispatch was a Conductor closing the doors from an intermediate or rear Cab and viewing the platform train interface until the carriages were clear of the station.

This was/is the safest method of train dispatch available, as it allows for the platform train interface to be observed for the longest period of time by a Safety Critical trained member of staff who is in a Cab and therefore free from distractions. There is also an Emergency Stop button located at the dispatch point in case the conductor requires to stop the train due to an incident at the platform/train interface.

The comparison that the ORR needed to do was between DOO and the safest alternative method. It is clear that if such a comparison was done then Cab dispatch by a Conductor would be the safest method of dispatch by some margin.

The ORR have facilitated Southern over the years in moving from Cab dispatch to Vestibule dispatch not just to help increase ticket sales/revenue flow but because it was also seen as a vital step to introducing DOO by downgrading the Conductor role in safe train dispatch.

If the ORR  had not facilitated Southern in their move to Vestibule dispatch they could not now be claiming DOO as the safer method.

The increase in passenger numbers over the past years and the predicted increases to come in the future, have all led to both platforms and trains becoming more crowded.  The need to prioritise safe train dispatch has become of critical importance as the dangers associated with the platform train interface are exasperated by the further  increase in passenger numbers. To deal effectively with this increased risk it should be seen as essential to introduce the safest method of train dispatch and not the cheapest method as part of a cost cutting plan.

Cab dispatch by a Safety Critical trained Conductor provides the safest method of working by protecting the interests of both customers and traincrew and the RMT and ASLEF  should start demanding  its re-introduction without delay.


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