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Friday, 11 July 2014

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Railway union meets Carlisle MP over job concerns

A delegation of rail union representatives met Carlisle MP John Stevenson following concerns about jobs and ‘driver only’ trains.

Craig Johnston photo
Craig Johnston

The group included six people – senior RMT staff representatives from Carlisle and some from Virgin Trains, Northern Rail and Network Rail. The meeting took place at Mr Stevenson’s office on Currie Street, off Chiswick Street.

Craig Johnston, RMT relief regional organiser for the north, said: “The meeting lasted about an hour.

“We discussed a whole range of issues including the awarding of the West Coast Main Line rail franchise to First Group.

“We were seeking assurances from him about jobs and services in Carlisle, in particular assurances about on-train catering services being protected and expanded, ticket office opening times, staffing levels being maintained and no cuts to front line station staff.”

Representatives also quizzed Mr Stevenson on the McNulty report which calls for the introduction of driver only operated trains.

Mr Johnston said: “We are concerned about the driver only operated trains, given that we had an incident like Grayrigg in the county.

“A few weeks ago we also experienced a derailment in our county (on the Carlisle to Barrow line). The role of the guards and the Network Rail mobile operations manager was crucial in dealing with that situation.

“We think inspections of tracks should be robust, methodical and properly resourced. We believe there should be a proper, physical inspection rather than relying on video.”

The group has now agreed to write to Mr Stevenson formally expressing their concerns and the matters they wish him to raise with the government.

Mr Johnston added: “I’d say the meeting was a robust and forthright exchange of opinions. Some things we agreed on and some we didn’t.

“Mr Stevenson said he hoped there would be major improvements in the future to Carlisle railway station, including the addition of numerous retail outlets.”

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