It is little wonder that the author of the government-commissioned report "into the crisis on Britain`s worst-performing rail network", Chris Gibb, finds union action at Southern Rail "difficult to comprehend" (Southern tried to run too many trains with few staff, 23/06/17). Although he managed to meet with Southern owners Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) and Keolis 28 times, and with government agencies 48 times, an appendix to the report shows that he did not have one single meeting with the unions!
It seems that cost-cutting, which clearly played a part in the Grenfell tragedy, also was the primary factor in the Department of Transport`s decision to award the franchise to GTR, because they made "the cheapest offer", with rivals having "too many drivers". Now the trend is to cut costs further by getting rid of guards on all trains, against which unions are rightly opposed. Do we have to experience a train disaster before the government comes to its senses, and insists, on passenger safety grounds, that all trains must have guards?