Union bosses fear train stations in Macclesfield could become “crime hot spot and no-go areas” if railway chiefs cut the number of conductors.
Northern Rail, which manages Prestbury and Chelford railway stations, is proposing to remove conductors, also known as guards, from many of its services. It says the changes will result in more staff at certain stations and that drivers can operate services safely without conductors.
But the Rail, Maritime and Transport workers’ union (RMT) is fighting the plans. It argues that the conductors role is to assist passengers and the driver.
Union members warn that removing guards means trains travel through 330 unstaffed stations on the network creating ‘a cocktail of dangers’ where passengers and the driver are more exposed to crime and anti-social behaviour.
It also means disabled and older passengers will not be able to get on and off the train when they wish to, union bosses claim. Other stations in the area which could be impacted are Goostrey, Mobberley and Styal.
RMT members have staged strike action over the row.
Mick Cash, RMT General Secretary, said: “No staff on many routes and lines, no staff on the stations and no staff on the trains travelling through these stations means there will be a cocktail of dangers at the locations we have identified which will increasingly become no-go areas for vulnerable passengers and new crime hot spots. At the same time our isolated drivers will be on their own, increasingly exposed to anti-social and violent behaviour.
“As well as these dangers there will be also be disadvantages for disabled and older passengers who require assistance because there will be no one there to help them on and off the train or provide assistance during their journey.”
Richard Allan, Northern’s deputy managing director, said: “Our plans will see staff more visible and available than ever before on trains and stations. We want to keep a second person on many of our services and, at some locations, we may choose to staff the station to give better customer support.
“Any changes we want to make to services or our stations are fully risk assessed, widely discussed, and approved in accordance with relevant legislation.”