Off The Rails's blog

Ticket Offices saved!

Great news this week as Transport for London has backed down on plans to close London Overground ticket offices.

This follows an active campaign by RMT, and by local Labour Party branches in the areas affected. Reps and activists handed out thousands of leaflets, travelled round the various...

The Sound of Silence

Ever since RMT announced its positive-sounding deals with various Train Operating Companies (TOCs), Off The Rails has argued that it is essential that the union keep members informed of what is going on in talks. We have also reported the frustration of members in the various companies involved that...

Paddington Aslef says: love socialism, hate Brexit

Paddington Aslef branch, organising Great Western Railway drivers, has passed the following motion on Brexit:

Paddington Branch notes that since the UK voted to leave the European Union, none of the promises made by the Leave Campaign have been delivered. Rather than having £350 million a week to...

RMT AGM: support these motions!

Supporters of Off The Rails, a platform for rank-and-file rail workers published by Workers' Liberty, have proposed and supported a number of motions in their RMT branches, for submission to the RMT AGM. These include motions on:

  • RMT officers' pay - Bakerloo branch
  • The "Free Our Unions" campaign...
  • Merseyrail: no backing down

    Merseyrail still seem intent on making a deal that robs one group of workers to pay another, by cutting cleaners' jobs to retain guards' jobs. A second deal of this type was rejected by the RMT National Executive today (5 April). The deal also wanted to shift some door control functions to the...

    How guards keep trains safe

    A recently published Rail Accident Investigation Board report has again highlighted the important safety function played by the Guard. On 2nd March 2018 trains on the Kent suburban lines running through Lewisham ground to a halt in the icy conditions caused by the “Beast from the East”. One train...

    All Quiet on the South Western Front?

    A South Western Railway commercial guard writes:

    Since it told us about the deal, the union has told us nothing about what has been happening since. Guards are getting annoyed that we don't know what is happening in the talks.

    Although we are pleased that the deal between RMT and the company...

    Another win for rail workers

    Workers on South Western Railway (SWR) have struck another huge blow against Driver Only Operation, winning an agreement that a safety-critical guard will be retained on all SWR services.

    Guards in the RMT had recently returned a resounding 84% majority in favour of further strikes, in a re...

    Will Northern try to buy off drivers to undermine guards' victory?

    The breakthrough in the anti-DOO dispute is a cause for celebration, but some caution must also be exercised. No formal settlement has yet been reached, and the "other stakeholders" referred to in Acas chair Brendan Barber's letter to RMT General Secretary Mick Cash must be drivers' union Aslef....

    After Northern victory: don't let the bosses divide us!

    Off the Rails has been covering the recent developments in RMT's dispute with Arriva Rail North, operators of Northern Railway over the company's plan to introduce Driver Only Operation.

    In a letter from Acas chair Brendan Barber, RMT were informed that the company and Department for Transport...

    Northern workers win!

    After nearly 50 days of strikes, Northern guards have forced their employer, Arriva Rail North (ARN), to scrap a plan to impose "Driver Only Operation" (DOO). ARN has instead committed to maintain a conductor on every Northern train, including on services using new or newly modified rolling stock....

    Off The Rails bulletin - February 2019

    We've collated a few recent items from our blog into a printed bulletin, for distribution at workplaces.

    Look out for it in a mess room near you!

    Click here to download the PDF.

    Govia Thameslink Railway: a view from the frontline

    The DOO strikes on Southern have been over for a while now. The next big battle will be over proposed cuts to platform dispatch jobs, which are likely to be targeted on Brighton mainline stations. Lots of managers have been trained as "contingency" dispatch staff in the event of a strike. But as...

    Rail workers’ picket line attacked by far right

    On 5 January an RMT picket line of striking Northern guards in Manchester was attacked by far-right thugs connected to the Democratic Football Lads Alliance and the rump English Defence League. It seems the attack may have been an opportunistic action by far-right activists mobilised for a demo of...

    Drivers: don't sell your conditions!

    Rumours reach us that certain TOCs may be preparing offers to their drivers, via Aslef, aimed at heading off the possibility of united action against DOO.

    These offers may include the promise of a substantial pay rise, in exchange for effectively selling conditions: that means concessions on DOO...

    An open letter to fellow ASLEF drivers: which side are we on?

    To download the article below as an A4 bulletin, click here.

    “It has long been the tradition in ASLEF to respect picket lines whether they are our own or those of fellow trade unionists.” - ASLEF  members’ diary


    Dear Driver,

    I am writing to you, as a fellow...

    Aslef sells out on Southern: fight against DOO must go on

    As guards, and RMT drivers, at five Train Operating Companies (TOCs) strike again on 8-9 November to resist the imposition of Driver Only Operation (DOO), rail workers have received the demoralising news that Aslef members on Southern have voted by 79.1% to accept a deal that will see Aslef retreat...

    On the frontlines against DOO

    A report from a Northern guard

    Our depot is solid with regards to the strike action. We only have 21 guards, of whom 17 have appeared on the picket line at one time or another (we average about 11 people on each strike day). Newcastle, Workington and Barrow are likewise unified.


    Latest in DOO fight

    July has seen a number of interesting and potentially important developments in the ongoing dispute between rail unions and the Train Operating Companies (TOCs) and the government over Driver Only Operation (DOO).

    Since RMT strike action on July 8th (Northern, Southern and Merseyrail), 9th...

    'Third Party' Tyranny Against Catering Staff

    Call to support and stamp out unacceptable working conditions for our members who are facing the tyranny of their scabby employers but the might of TOCs and their contractual arrangements with their suppliers.

    Over two weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending a RMT reps course at Doncaster...

    Disabled Activists' Strike Solidarity

    Disabled activists will be joining picket lines tomorrow morning to support all three strikes against driver-only operation (DOO).
    The companies' threat to remove guards is not just a threat to our jobs - for many disabled people, it threatens their right to travel on the railway at all. Many of...

    New strikes in war against DOO

    RMT members on Southern, Northern, and MerseyRail will strike again in July, as the fight to stop "Driver Only Operation" (DOO) continues.

    Southern workers will strike on 10 July, Northern workers on 8-10 July, and MerseyRail on 8, 10, and 23 July.

    Activists in the Disabled People Against...

    Grenfell Fire: Never Again!

    This is a joint blog post from Tubeworker and Off The Rails.

    The working-class people killed in the Grenfell Fire were killed because they were working-class. They were killed for being working-class — and, many of them, for being people of colour, and/or from migrant backgrounds — and not...

    How the ruling class sees the anti-DOO strikes: let's prove them wrong!

    This blog is intended as a contribution to discussion. Let us know what you think: Off The Rails will publish replies we receive.

    By a rail worker

    The Financial Times is, or aspires to be, one of the more serious newspapers of the boss class. Reading it can normally give you a reasonable...

    Solid First Day of Action at Northern and Merseyrail!

    The RMT action on Northern and Merseyrail against Driver Only Operation on 13th March was very successful.

    At Merseyrail, ALL Traincrew stayed out, including ALL Drivers, despite the majority of them belonging to ASLEF, which has not yet joined the dispute. The ONLY trains that moved at...

    Northern strike: don't cross the picket line!

    This article appeared in the bulletin On Guard, which can be downloaded here.

    The majority of Drivers at Northern (and MerseyRail and Southern too!) will support today's strike by RMT Drivers and Guards against Driver Only Operation. ASLEF members will be asking all sorts of questions about...

    Northern, Southern, MerseyRail: Organise The Rank-and-File!

    This article appeared in the workplace bulletin On Guard, which can be downloaded here.

    On Guard supports all workers on strike or respecting picket lines today, in the biggest and most widespread action yet in the fight to maintain the job of Guard on Britain's railways.

    The RMT union is...

    Southern drivers reject sell-out: back to the picket lines!

    The votes are in, and Aslef drivers on Southern have delivered a resounding "no thanks" to their leaders' sell-out deal, blowing the dispute against Driver Only Operation wide open again.

    The scores on the doors were 54.1% against the deal and 45.9% for it, on a high turnout of 72.7%.


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