Page last updated at 16:25 GMT, Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Rail staff vote to strike over ScotRail conductor plans

Scotrail train
The action is due to begin on 20 February

Commuters and rugby fans face disruption after rail workers voted to strike in protest at the absence of conductors on a new train service.

About 550 members of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) will take part in the action, planned for 20 February, 1 March and 13 March.

They are angry at plans by ScotRail to run the new Edinburgh/Glasgow via Airdrie route without conductors.

The strike coincides with the Scotland/England rugby match at Murrayfield.

The Six Nations game is due to be played in Edinburgh on 13 March.

RMT workers across Scotland, including conductors, drivers and sleeper-train managers, will take part in the strike.

The union said 379 of its workers voted in favour of strike action, while 80 opposed the move.

I hope that rail users in Scotland will understand that we are making a stand for their safety
Bob Crow
RMT

Union general secretary Bob Crow said properly trained conductors "save lives".

He said: "Anyone in doubt of the crucial role played by guards need only read First group's own rigorous training manual - and railway workers know from bitter experience that properly trained guards save lives."

He added: "I hope that rail users in Scotland will understand that we are making a stand for their safety as well as our members', and join with us in demanding that the Scottish government steps in to stop ScotRail putting cash before safety."

Shutting doors

The new £300m railway is due to open in December.

However, trains will be operated by drivers and ticket examiners only.

ScotRail said the strikes announcement was "deeply disappointing" and claimed the dispute was about "who opens and shuts doors on trains".

A spokesman for the company said: "The services will be no different from those which have run in Scotland for more than 25 years - and will create 130 new jobs and offer major benefits to passengers.

"No-one is losing their job and current terms and conditions are guaranteed."

The spokesman added that drivers would be responsible for opening and shutting doors on the new line.

The company has previously maintained that if the new trains were to be operated by conductors, £1.4m would have to be spent converting the trains for their use.

ScotRail said it intends to run at least nine out of 10 trains during any industrial dispute.



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