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TSSA Response To Network Rail Safety Taskforce

11 July 2019

TSSA General Secretary, Manuel Cortes, has welcomed Network Rail's (NR) announcement of a new safety taskforce, backed with a £70m fund, to target track-worker safety. Cortes has also called for an urgent meeting with the boss of Network Rail and pointed to a number of outstanding issues relating to lineside safety.

This follows the tragic deaths of two workers on the line at Port Talbot last week (3rd July).

NR says the taskforce will accelerate its current ‘Near Miss Reduction Programme’. It also says it will look into designing and developing new protection and warning systems and technology to warn workers of approaching trains.

NR says it intends to improve the planning of track-side work, giving clarity of who’s in charge and ensuring good quality briefings are undertaken before work starts.

Responding, Manuel Cortes said: “Our union of course welcomes any step that will make our members and our railways safer. The tragedy is that it has taken the deaths of two men to make this taskforce happen.

“However, I’ve written to Andrew Haines (NR’s Chief Executive) making it clear our union has, for the past two years, been seeking to address the planning and delivery of safe working.

“There also needs to be an explanation as to why Network Rail failed to act on recent warnings from the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) that there were ‘too many near misses in which railway workers have had to jump for their lives.’

“I cannot ignore the clear and present risk to TSSA members working lineside, nor the fact that many of our members have management responsibility for the safety of passengers and rail workers.

“I am therefore seeking an urgent meeting with Mr Haines to further discuss how they plan to engage with us to improve the safety for lineside workers.”

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