Will our trains be safe in the future?

Train firm Northern in dispute with union RMT over removing guards from trains

Train company Northern and the RMT union have been in dispute over the future role of the conductor on their trains.

Northern have expressed their intention to remove guards from their trains, and instead introducing Driver Controlled Operation (DCO).

This means that the driver would operate the doors instead of having a separate conductor to do so, and so would slash the number of staff on trains in half.

Train conductors and guards aboard Northern trains could soon be a thing of the past


Responding to concerns over safety, Northern has been reassuring customers that safety remains as their top priority – despite intending to cut the number of staff that the public interacts with on their journeys.

Despite intending to remove staff from trains, Northern have insisted that there won’t be any job or pay cuts – but RMT are continuing with their action despite this.

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Northern have pledged that by 2020 they will make several improvements to their services, including having more visible staff on trains – despite their DCO plans, 98 new trains alongside 243 refurbishments, and employment for more than the 450 staff that have joined them since April 2016.

The movement as a whole has been dubbed as the ‘Action for Rail’ movement. Photo Credit: RMT Union website.


RMT have been staging strikes throughout the year in dispute of Northern’s intentions, with a statement released in September saying this:

“Arriva stand accused by the union of treating staff and passengers alike with complete contempt after they reduced the talks process into a farce and refused to consider a set of six proposals put forward by RMT reps aimed at a negotiated settlement.

As a result of the company’s pig-headed attitude the strike action goes ahead on Tuesday and Thursday next week with the blame for the disruption that will be unleashed laying firmly at the door of Arriva”.

RMT are currently organising strikes against Southern, South Western, Mersey Rail, Greater Anglia and Cross Country.

For more information on their strikes and how they may affect you, please visit the RMT site HERE.

Related: Derby railway passengers warned of delays due to CrossCountry strikes