Sunday train strikes continue as East Midland Train managers carry on action

The strikes are due to take place every Sunday during August and September

By Alison Bagley
Monday, 16th August 2021, 4:14 pm
Updated Monday, 16th August 2021, 4:16 pm

Train managers have continued their strike over safety on Corby, Kettering and Wellingborough East Midlands Railway services.

Crews walked out yesterday (Sunday, August 15) in the latest action in their series of Sunday strikes during August and September.

Rail, Martime and Transport union (RMT) chiefs say their members cannot keep passengers safe on the electric units used by East Midlands Railway since May.

RMT members at the picket line yesterday

The trains are built in four-car units with driver cabs at each end so managers cannot walk through the entire train when they are coupled together to form eight or 12-car services.

Taking part as an official picket outside Kettering railway station was RMT member Geoff Martin.

He said: "The strike at Kettering is part of the East Midland Railway Train managers' dispute over safety. Trains are made up of four carriage sets which up until this point have had a train manager on each set.

"Management are trying to force through sets with eight and 12 carriages with only one train manager who will have no access to half or two thirds of the train.

One of the 'new' Connect 360 trains

"Already there has been a mugging incident and an assault where the train manager couldn’t help the victim because they had no access. The RMT have repeatedly asked for negotiations to solve this dispute and reiterate that we are available for talks at any time."

The RMT said that the action by senior conductors and train managers on East Midlands Railways in two separate disputes remained solidly supported They said that a dossier of 'potentially lethal safety breaches' was being compiled as other members of staff stood in for those on strike.

RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch said: ""Our members are standing firm again today (Sunday) on East Midlands Railways in the two on-going disputes as the company gambles on passenger safety instead of getting round the table for serious talks.

"We already have clear evidence of safety breaches on scab-operated trains including the potentially lethal and basic error of doors being opened on the wrong side of the train.

"The union is compiling a dossier for the safety regulator and is demanding that the company stop taking these unnecessary risks and start talking. "

East Midlands Railway says the Class 360 units were used for 17 years by Greater Anglia with no managers at all.

In addition to striking on Sundays between August 8 and September 26, the RMT said managers will refuse to work on any 12-car commuter services to and from London St Pancras.

An East Midlands Railway statement said: “The safety of our customers and our staff will never be comprised or put at risk.

"This strike action by the RMT is completely unwarranted and unjustified.

“EMR consulted with the RMT for six months before these trains were brought into service and the RMT signed the resulting risk assessment.

"Every EMR Connect service includes a safety-critical train manager on board – which is an enhancement to the previous 17 years where they have operated in other parts of the county with only a driver.

"Furthermore, these trains have been in customer service since May and there has not been a single operational or safety incident due to their method of operation."

The Class 360s were due for refurbishment before being introduced on Northamptonshire services as part of the £1.5billion Midland Mainline electrification programme. But delays due to the Covid-19 pandemic pushed back those plans.