Most of the trains in local public transport networks are now equipped with technology that can guarantee passenger safety at stations. This means that there is often no longer any need for guards. The solutions include sensors that will stop doors closing if a passenger is in the way. Also, if a station is on a curve, cameras on the platform can be positioned in a way that allows the driver to keep an eye on all doors and ensure that passengers can embark and disembark safely.
Most train operators (there are a few exceptions) no longer plan to have conductors selling tickets on board.
However, regional rail network tenders in particular appear to be placing increasing importance on using conductors. The role of today’s conductors is to answer any questions passengers may have about their journey and to act as the face of the rail operator. The conductors are also tasked with carrying out ticket checks, so they play an important part in securing fare revenues. Rail transport authorities are also starting to pay more attention to conductor numbers, as passengers generally feel more secure if they see there are enough staff on duty. As people tend to feel less secure at night than during the day, operators often provide more conductors on trains traveling at night or very early in the morning. Most of the trains on Germany’s suburban rail networks (S-Bahn) don’t have any staff on board during the day, but they do use security teams at night.
Obviously, a conductor can’t be everywhere on the train at once, which is why cameras and other surveillance systems are becoming increasingly widespread. The overall aim is to combine all these measures to make sure passengers feel as secure as possible and continue being happy to use public transport.
Frank Zerban of the Bundesarbeitsgemeinschaft der Aufgabenträger des Schienenpersonen-Nahverkehr (SPNV) e.V. answered this question.