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The TUC has today (Wednesday) accused Southern Rail of “gambling” with passenger safety.

The TUC has today (Wednesday) accused Southern Rail of “gambling” with passenger safety.

The train operator is looking to downgrade the role of 375 guards, who are trained to assist elderly and disabled passengers, provide direction in emergencies, keep order and dispatch trains.

The TUC says the plan to increase the number of trains without a safety-trained guard on board is reckless and ill-thought through.

The Transport Select Committee last week published a damning report on Southern Rail, criticising the firm for “inadequate staffing” on trains.

The TUC says rather than picking a needless fight with unions, the company should be investing in improving safety and staffing on services.

Southern Rail last year paid out £22 million to shareholders – enough to pay for 750 train guards, says the TUC.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:

“Southern should not be gambling with passenger safety. Having a properly-trained guard on board is the very least commuters deserve.

“Southern needs to stop blaming unions for its own failures.

“Passengers will be at a loss to understand how a company that has been cancelling so many rail services can generate such massive profits and not be held to account by the government.

“The travelling public deserve a much better deal.”

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