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TSSA back Commons transport committee over Network Rail failings

7 March 2014

MPs slam Network Rail's shortcomings over level crossing deaths.

Manuel Cortes, leader of the TSSA rail union which led the campaign for the Commons Transport select committee to set up the enquiry, said:
 "The approach of Network Rail will, sadly, come as no surprise whatsoever to the victims families who have been misled down the years when they should have been treated with dignity and respect.

"It should, however, shock the taxpaying public who have been funding what is effectively a "double your salary" bonus culture which has allowed the firm's top five executives to take millions of pounds in bonus payments while this scandal has been taking place over the past nine years.

"We wholeheartedly back the committee's demand that the six figure annual and long term bonuses should now be cancelled but we would also ask the Transport Secretary to go further and also cancel three £300,000 retention bonuses due to paid on April 1 on top of those bonuses.

The union leader welcomed the committee's call for NR to finally come clean with the families of the two schoolgirls who died on an unsafe level crossing at Elsenham in 2005. The firm was fined £1 million over its negligence in 2012.

"As the union which exposed NR's cover up of two key hidden reports four years ago, we now welcome the fact that NR is finally going to disclose the full facts surrounding the cover up which meant the families, the Coroner, the ORR and RAIB were kept in the dark over two key documents which, if implemented, would have avoided the deaths of Olivia Bazlinton and Charlie Thompson.

"This is the very least that their still grieving fathers, Chris Bazlinton and Reg Thompson, deserve. They have battled for the truth with courage and dignity for nine long years. NR should be ashamed of the way it has treated them and the other victims families."

He also welcomed the demand that rail regulator ORR adopt a "zero policy" over level crossing failures and to beef up its staffing levels to properly oversee safety at the country's 6.000 level crossings.
"For far  too long, the ORR has been treating NR with kid gloves. Only three prosecutions in the past ten years for level crossing failures is simply not tough enough or robust enough if the rail regulator is serious about wanting to radically change this poor safety culture then the regulation of safety and finance need to be separated."

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