August 26 2010
RMT slams SWT’s ‘profit-driven vandalism’ of ticket-offices
BRITAIN’S BIGGEST rail union accused South West Trains of “profit-driven vandalism” today as the Stagecoach subsidiary announced that it had gained approval for another round of cuts to station ticket-office opening hours.
RMT said that cuts at eleven stations (list below), approved by the Transport Department despite objections from users, would lead to a further deterioration in customer service and seriously increase the risk of assaults at stations at evening and weekends. SWT is waiting for approval for cuts at a further six.
Despite pre-tax profits of £170 million last year Stagecoach has made clear that it considers jobs and customer services less important than maximising the returns to their shareholders regardless of the impact on passengers and staff.
RMT general secretary Bob Crow said:
“Once again South West Trains has put its shareholders’ dividends ahead of any consideration for safety and service for passengers with what can only be described as profit-driven vandalism.
“These cuts will mean more deserted stations, which will mean greater risk of assault for passengers and our members, as well as locked-up waiting rooms and toilets, and they will have a disproportionate effect on people with disabilities and on women travelling alone.
“Ticket offices aren’t only about selling tickets, they are about trained, uniformed staff offering helps and advice, about having a physical presence on stations to give a feeling of security and deterring assaults and vandalism.
“We know that passengers want to see more uniformed staff on stations, not fewer, but Stagecoach has shown once more that its sole concern is making the maximum profit.
“Rather than approving these cuts the government should be building into franchises minimum staffing levels that will ensure safety, security and service levels that people need.”
Further information from Derek Kotz, 020 7529 8803, or 07939 595 092
Note to editors: SWT stations at which cuts have been approved: Ash Vale; Brookwood; Camberley; Clandon; Crewkerne; Hinchley Wood; Netley; Pokesdown; St Denys; Sunningdale, and Whitchurch (Hampshire). Stations at which proposed cuts are awaiting approval: Barnes; Berrylands; Christchurch; Farncombe; Strawberry Hill; Virginia Water.