Trains with a guard become driver-only trains, which then become driverless trains. That’s the fear underlying Aslef’s dispute with Southern railways and accounts for the rearguard action to prevent further job losses across the rail industry.
It’s not the only reason for the dispute. There is also scorn for Southern’s management, which has attacked drivers’ basic terms and conditions, and there is anger at transport secretary Chris Grayling’s anti-union stance. But, at its heart, the dispute is over the status and even the very existence of the job of train driver, which has been around for nigh on 200 years.