Protest over cuts to staff on London Overground services in Hackney

The ghost train protest at Hackney Wick

The ghost train protest at Hackney Wick - Credit: Archant

Campaigners have warned that ghost trains could run through Hackney, if guards are removed from on board trains.

Local commuters staged a protest and handed postcards to visitors at Hackney Wick station, to raise awareness of a push to cut staff on trains in spite of rising fares.

Transport for London (TfL) made a decision last month to remove guards from all London Overground trains – except the Barking to Gospel Oak line – as part of the Driver Only Operation (DOO) to reduce staffing costs.

According to TfL the DOO radio technology ensures a secure link between the driver and the operations centre, removing the role previously undertaken by a conductor.

An increase in DOO was recommended in the 2011 government commissioned rail report by Roy Nulty, which also proposed slashing ticket office and platform staff at 35 earmarked stations – including Hackney Wick and Homerton.

Protester Angela Khodeir said: “London Overground previously stated they would not remove ticket office services from the network, however as we can see from the guards issue, TfL are very much in support of reducing staff on the network without any form of community engagement.”

Hackney Wick resident and commuter Joel Kosminsky added: “We think Hackney Wick deserves a safe, staffed railway station.

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“We thought London Overground shared this belief, but it’s clear that they are just another company putting their profits before community need.”

He continued: “Without staff at ticket office and on trains, passengers with disabilities or passengers visiting the area will be less likely to use the train. These cuts will hurt everyone.”

Director of TfL London Rail, Jonathan Fox, refuted the claims that staff at stations could be cut: “All London Overground stations would continue to remain staffed while trains are running, with trained staff available to help disabled passengers who require assistance,” he said.

“The technology in place across London Overground means that a conductor is no longer needed to ensure the safety and security of passengers or manage the operation of the train doors.”

TfL and train operator LOROL (London Overground Rail Operations Ltd) are consulting with its workforce on the proposal.

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