A young woman from Ellesmere Port who launched a bid to protect train guard jobs after a Merseyrail official saved her from a 'creep' has received overwhelming support.
Twenty-year-old Ellie Ward shared her story after a Merseyrail guard helped get her away from a man who was acting suspiciously on a late-night Liverpool to Ellesmere Port service.
Having tracked down guard David Haydn and thanked him for his help, Ellie decided to do her bit to back the Rail and Maritime Transport Workers Union (RMT) in its bid to reverse a decision to remove the 220 guard roles on the Merseyrail network.
And her campaign has exploded - with an e-petition she launched just last week already closing in on its target of 15,000 signatures, reports our sister paper the Liverpool Echo.
Ellie’s ‘Petition Against Getting Rid of the Train Guards’ has amassed a huge 14,593 signatures in just eight days.
It is hosted on the 38 degrees website, where Ellie explains her story of being in a very 'vulnerable' position while travelling to Ellesmere Port from Liverpool Central at 9.30pm at night.
She said: “I let the guard at the station know I needed that train to make sure I got on it. Finally got on the train where I sat next to the window and put my bag and shoes next to me whilst I went onto my phone.
“About half way through the journey the train guard came down and sat opposite, asked if I was ok and mentioned where I was getting off to then he asked me to come sit further up the train to ensure I got off safely.
“Few stops went past and he gestured to another young woman to come down and sit near him so she did - as she was trying to get a taxi to which she couldn’t.
He added: “He then told us a man had been following me down the train and looking through the reflection and eyeing me up and standing right behind my chair. Unsure of his intentions. “Then when I got moved he then began to do the same to the other lady.”
She adds: “If it wasn’t for the guard being very vigilant and observing what was going on I wouldn’t know what could have happened to myself or the other lady. Especially due to the past few days there has been a number of sexual assaults.
“This is why we need the train guards to protect those who maybe vulnerable on trains and to diffuse any situation that may happen.
“This is why We need to say NO to driver only trains, I am very grateful to that guard and the way Merseyrail dealt with the situation - why is saving money and cuts more important than people’s safety?”
Merseyrail argue that the removal of the guard roles and arrival of a new fleet of trains will have no effect on the safety of passengers on their services.
The company has said that as well as guaranteeing a job to all guards who wish to stay at Merseyrail under the same terms and conditions, it will also place a member of customer service staff on every train after 8pm when the new fleet arrives.
But the RMT remains in dispute, insisting that the guard positions are “safety critical.”
The Echo understands that the latest in a long-line of strikes is likely to take place during a three week closure of Liverpool Lime Street next month - when Merseyrail trains will be relied on to bring passengers into and around the region.