An important travel petition needs all our support

An overcrowded train station demonstrating why this petition is needed
Steve Topple

There’s an important petition doing the rounds on social media. It’s about our rail network and an issue that affects every person who uses it. So, here’s why you should get involved.

An important petition

As the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) tweeted, the petition calls for “fully staffed and accessible stations”:

 

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The petition has clear aims:

  • “Stop the cuts to station staffing across the railways and on London Underground”.
  • “Stop ticket office closures and cuts to ticket office opening hours”.
  • “Ensure all stations are fully staffed and accessible for passengers”.
  • “An end to the violence against passengers and railway workers”.

You can sign the petition here.

Creaking under the strain

It also laid bare some shocking statistics. Not least, the RMT said that:

In 2018/19 there was a 16% rise in violent crime on our railways. Despite this, train companies are increasingly attempting to close station ticket offices, cut hours and staffing at stations and increase levels of lone working.

The Morning Star reported that the situation in London is dire:

Assaults on… employees shot up from 505 in 2016 to 628 in 2019 — an increase of approximately 25 per cent.

Knife-related violence against workers also jumped by 84 per cent, from 19 incidents in 2016 to 35 in 2019.

But the rot goes deeper than this. As Engineering and Technology reported, an RMT report found that:

  • Only 10% of UK stations are fully staffed.
  • 45% are staffed “some of the time”.
  • The other 45% are never staffed.

In the capital, Transport for London (TfL) is going to cut the opening hours of London Overground ticket offices. So, across the UK our rail network’s staffing levels are shrinking, while the need for them increases.

Disabled people: hit hardest?

A lack of staff often hits disabled people the hardest. As campaigner and disability rights activist Paula Peters tweeted:

Our rail network is all too often not good for disabled people. For example, only 21% of stations have accessible ticket offices:

Accessibility of the UK rail network

The privatisation game

The RMT petition affects us all. As its general secretary Mick Cash said:

It has never been more apparent that the privatised and fragmented railway has failed to deliver an affordable, accessible and reliable service for passengers.

Violence on the railways is soaring, yet the private train companies continue to close ticket offices and cut staffing at stations. These damaging cuts only serve to benefit their shareholders’ profits, not passengers.

RMT is calling on the Government to prove that it is serious about improving the rail passenger experience

So, by signing this petition we’re lending our support to the RMT. But also, we’re sending a message to the Tories that our rail network should not be compromised.

Featured image via the Association of British Commuters 

Get involved

  • Sign the RMT petition.

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  • Show Comments
    1. “If you see something suspicious report to a member of staff or a police officer”. This announcement is often to be heard at unstaffed stations and when passengers are aboard overground and underground trains with no guards. I heard the announcement on the London Underground only yesterday on the day of the Streatham street knifings incident.

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