The RMT’s campaign to retain guards on trains seems to me to be one that all train passengers should support.

It does seem crazy to have hundreds of people on a train and only the driver to deal with any emergencies, unruly ­passengers or just day-to-day problems. I think a train driver has enough to deal with without dealing with passenger problems too.

I was very grateful to have a guard on a GWR train when travelling to London around a year ago. A young woman got on at Taunton and sat beside me. Shortly after she became unconscious and began to twitch. She was having an epileptic fit. The guard was contacted and he asked for assistance from medically trained people. Three people came and assessed the situation and gave assistance.

It was a fast train and was not due to stop until it got to Reading, an hour and a half later. The guard had arranged for an ambulance crew to be waiting at the platform. The situation could have been more urgent, in which case the guard could have arranged for the train to stop before Reading.

I have done a rough ­calculation on the economics of having a guard, based on a half-full train (standard and first class), the midpoint of a guard’s salary and all the ­passengers travelling on off-peak tickets.

On a return trip to London from Totnes, GWR would get £34,000 from passengers, of which the guard would get £106. It really is slicing off ­slivers.

It is regrettable that the RMT has been forced to take strike action, but this seems to be the only way to get the train ­companies to negotiate on this issue.

Thus far in Devon the dispute is only affecting trains from Exeter to Waterloo, but it seems likely that this will spread unless train companies accept that the small saving they

seek to save would have a ­disproportionate effect on their customers.

Paul Bishop

trade union liaison officer,

Totnes and South Devon constituency,

Labour Party