YOUR columnist David Behrens has no idea of how the railway is structured and how all the companies operate within that structure. For a start, the trains are owned by leasing companies and not the individual operating companies, so none of them have surplus trains which they can put into service at short notice. If they did, 99 per cent of the time they would be hiring rolling stock to stand idle.
He also throws in the ridiculous statement that the London Underground manages safely without guards on any of its trains. Of course it does, the London Underground is 100 per cent track-circuited. The controllers know exactly where every train is on the system at all times. In addition, all London Underground stations are staffed and quite close together.
Northern Rail operates in a largely rural environment with most stations unstaffed and often miles apart. Thus, if a train becomes derailed, hits a landslide or fallen tree and the driver is trapped or injured, as has happened, a safety-trained guard is essential to the safety of the passengers.
He would also be responsible for providing detonator protection to the rear of the train and on the opposite track to warn oncoming trains of the incident.