The union at the centre of bitter disputes over the role of guards on trains is today launching a new film and social media drive to back up its campaign.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) is involved in long running rows with several train operators, which have led to a series of strikes this year, with more planned in January.

Councils across West Yorkshire – including Kirklees – have stated their opposition to driver-only trains on Northern Rail Services.

Rail workers’ union the RMT welcomed the move by West Yorkshire Combined Authority which covers Kirklees, Leeds, Bradford, Calderdale, Wakefield and York councils for supporting the union’s campaign to keep guards on Northern rail services.

The union has released a short film, called Unguarded, with stories from three individual passengers travelling on separate, but unnamed train operators, supporting the case for retaining guards.

A TransPennine Express train
A TransPennine Express train

One elderly man could not open a toilet door so “panicked” and pressed the alarm so the driver had to stop the train and investigate, while a young girl spoke of her “terror” at being followed onto a deserted late night train by a “creepy” man who sat opposite her in an empty carriage.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “RMT is committed to using every tool at our disposal to defend the role of the guard and to resist the profit-driven moves to throw these safety-critical staff off our trains.

“These films are based on real experiences that have been fed back to us by both passengers and our members who deal with the daily reality of the de-staffing of the railway.

“The themes that are a constant throughout are safety, security and accessibility on the railway and we will not allow those messages to get shoved aside in the barrage of rhetoric from the private companies, the Government and their cheerleaders at the Rail Delivery Group.

“RMT is confident this latest initiative will spark off a new surge in support for the Keep The Guard campaign and for our members who find themselves at the sharp end.”

The RMT union argues that driver only trains would be unsafe and lead to widespread job losses.

The train operator said driver operated trains were a safe way of working and were in regular use across the rail network in the UK and abroad.

Prof George Bearfield, a former student at the University of Huddersfield and visiting professor of rail safety, said driver only trains were just as safe as trains with guards. He said that from staffed platforms driver only trains are shown to have been significantly safer than those with doors operated by a guard.