Rail union RMT is warning that plans for driver only trains could heighten the terror risks faced by passengers. Calling for an urgent safety summit, the union revealed that under-threat train guards have been given a crucial role in combatting the terrorist activity.

A management instruction to guards notes: “If you are a conductor [Guard] you should continue to make security announcements at appropriate points throughout your journey, advising customers to keep bags and belongings with them and report any suspicious activity to a member of staff or British Transport Police.”

Yet despite this crucial role, the union says rail bosses are seeking to remove guards from Southern, Northern and Merseyrail services. RMT is calling for a summit involving politicians, the rail industry, transport police and unions, seeking assurances that security concerns are put at the forefront of decisions on frontline railway staffing.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “Rail staff are required to follow strict procedures to help reduce the risk of terrorist attacks. But if you remove the guarantee of the guard on trains or cut the number of station staff you will reduce the frequency of the security checks and security announcements that could be vital in preventing a terrorist attack.”

He added: “We would hope that there would now be an industry and political consensus to say that we should not be taking guards off trains and staff off our stations. We are calling for a summit of politicians, the industry, transport police and unions to ensure that security concerns are put at the forefront of decisions on frontline staffing.”