First Great Western to increase on board staff on Super Express Trains

Wednesday 08th April 2015
First Great Western has confirmed that it will be increasing the number of staff on board long distance trains when it introduces new Super Express Trains(SETs) from 2017.

The new trains are being introduced as part of the government's Intercity Express Programme on routes between London Paddington and Oxford, Bristol and South Wales and form part of First Great Western's plans to replace 40-year-old High Speed Trains on long distance routes. 

Earlier this month First Great Western announced that the new trains would help provide three million additional seats a year for customers by December 2018, cutting journey times into Swansea by 20 minutes, and by up to 17 minutes into Bristol. These journey time improvements rely almost entirely on replacing the current trains - which require every door to be shut manually - with the new Super Express Trains, where the doors are centrally controlled. 

Trains with sliding doors across the whole of the UK network operate like this on a daily basis, carrying millions of passengers safely to their destinations. In these cases, industry research supports our view that, with in-cab CCTV that allows close monitoring of the platform/train interface, driver controlled operation offers a much safer method of train dispatch while offering considerable journey time benefits for our customers. 

First Great Western’s Operations Director, Ben Rule said: "We are not removing train managers or customer hosts from these trains, and we will be serving hot and cold food and drink on more trains than we do today. 

"We are being very clear from the very start. We need every train manager and customer host we have got - plus at least 100 more over the course of the franchise - for our plans to deliver the very best customer service on our long distance services. There will be absolutely no compulsory redundancies for those currently working on board these trains.

“And to help make sure those who currently work on our High Speed Trains stay with us, we’ve also promised no changes to pay or conditions of employment, with retraining and redeployment available for those who do no want to make the switch to the newer trains. We know this is a significant change for staff that currently work on board our High Speed Trains, but it is a change that is driven by improving the safety and customer service we offer on board, while increasing jobs on board and protecting the pay and conditions of current train managers and customer hosts."

First Great Western has already outlined these plans formally to the RMT, and wrote to staff last week highlighting the proposals and the commitments to jobs. We remain keen to talk with the RMT further.