South Western Railway retains ‘safety-critical’ guards , but RMT union still not satisfied

A south Western Railway service to Corfe Castle in May 2018.

Andy Mellors, managing director of South Western Railway, has issued a statement confirming that the company will retain guards on its trains, as demanded by railway union RMT.

The statement was made on 20 November 2019, came ahead of 28 days of strike action called by the RMT union throughout December and into January.

Andy Mellors, South Western Railway.

In the official statement, Andy Mellors saud: “We promise that there will always be a guard on our trains. We also promise our guards will maintain a safety critical role on our trains.

“We believe that these promises deliver what the RMT has been asking for, so these strikes are unnecessary.

“All we’re asking is that guards work with us to provide the modern, efficient train service customers need and want by bringing in new trains which could mean over 10 million more passenger journeys arrive on-time in peak hours every year.”

Mick Cash, RMT.

However, one day later, in response to the SWR statement, RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said: “RMT has attended discussions under the auspices of ACAS for the past two days to discuss the issues in dispute. No proposals that would enable the development of a resolution to the dispute have been put forward by SWR.

“Throughout these ‎talks SWR have not shown any intention of moving the issues at the heart of the dispute forwards despite verbal assurances in earlier discussions. It has become increasingly clear that they are not interested in reaching a settlement at this time.

“As a result of the company attitude all planned action remains on and the union is committed to ensuring the safest possible method of operation. RMT will remain available for discussions with the company at any time.”

So, it looks as though SWR has accepted the RMT’s argument for keeping guards on trains, but the RMT hasn’t accepted that SWR has accepted it.


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