Rail passengers will not thank the unions for inflicting unnecessary disruption over DOO. Since December GTR have met the union eight times to discuss the changes but the union still intends to disrupt the travelling public. Over 60 per cent of GTR's services already operate without conductors and DOO trains have been safely operated on our rail network for over 30 years. In peak times around three DOO trains leave a London terminus per minute, full of customers, perfectly safely. It is used in other counties around the world including Germany and Japan.
Let me be clear, I have not always seen eye-to-eye with GTR. In fact, I have regularly held them to account for their abysmal service, which includes truly dire communication to passengers of delays and cancellations, as well as station skipping. I have met GTR’s management on a number of occasion and have held public meetings where residents have been able to put their concerns and questions to GTR’s management. You can see respective podcasts I did after the events here: https://youtu.be/Nzp8tJq0iQE and here: https://youtu.be/ilOd6UHrr5U. I have also been posting regular updates of GTR’s performance on my website.
However, on this specific issue I am clear that the changes GTR are proposing will lead to better journeys for passengers. With the new conductors no longer closing the doors (this will be done by the driver with the aid of CCTV), this frees up staff time on trains to better serve passengers. GTR have stated there will be no compulsory job losses as a result of this service improvement and as many services will have staff on board as they do today. DOO should also lead to fewer train cancellations in future. At present conductors are tied to specific routes which, during periods of disruption, increases the risk of service cancellation if the conductor has been delayed on a previous service. With the new on-board role conductors can be allocated to trains across the entire GTR network more flexibly.
The Government is investing around £2 billion to provide longer, more modern trains across the GTR network and this will mean a better experience for passengers. They will be fully equipped with the latest technology to allow DOO in line with modern practice. In 2014/15 crime on Britain's railways fell for the eleventh consecutive year and I know that my Ministerial colleagues at the Department for Transport would never do anything to put passengers at risk.