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From Keighley News, January 15th, 2018
Written by Alistair Shand

KEIGHLEY'S MP has spoken out in the long-running dispute over guards on trains which has caused widespread disruption. The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union has staged a series of walkouts in its fight against plans to change guards' role and introduce driver-only-operated train doors. Last week, three one-day strikes were held, severely hitting services on the Airedale line. 

Mr Grogan, speaking after a Commons debate on rail franchises, said: "North of the border a common-sense agreement has been reached between ScotRail and the trade unions – basically the driver opens the doors and the guard closes them.

"Regular travellers on the Airedale and Wharfedale lines know that delays can be caused when the train stops at a station and the guard is in the middle of issuing a ticket.

"The safety-critical role is the closing of the doors and that is what needs to be left in the hands of the guard.

"I think it is important that the duties of the guard are not just about issuing tickets – they have an important job in making sure passengers' journeys are safe and also that there is somebody available to answer questions.

"Commuters on the Airedale and Wharfedale lines are fed-up with the constant disruption to services, which last week – for the first time – covered three days of the working week.

"The Department of Transport has a duty to get operator Northern Rail and the unions round the table to thrash out a solution."

The RMT says it welcomes any political support in a bid to find a resolution.

A spokesman added: "A deal has been reached in Scotland – and in Wales – which retains a safety-critical guard on every train, and we are seeking a similar resolution in England.

"It is about much wider safety issues than just who opens and closes doors."

Northern says any proposed changes are fully risk-assessed and "approved in accordance with relevant legislation".

Deputy managing director Richard Allan said: "We are committed to investing in new and updated trains, better stations and faster journeys for our customers.

"Northern is prepared to guarantee jobs and pay for conductors for the rest of our franchise to 2025 if we can reach agreement on how our colleagues deliver better customer service, using those fantastic new facilities.

"Also, the Government has written to RMT guaranteeing employment for conductors beyond 2025, if RMT ends its dispute."