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TSSA Write To Williams Review Raising Rail Safety Concerns

7 October 2019

The TSSA has written to the Williams Rail Review with an 'evidence paper' on 'Concerns Over Trackworker Safety'.

The paper provides ‘additional evidence about safety concerns that we have in relation to staff working on or about the railway’.

This follows the deaths in July (3rd) this year of two Network Rail staff at Margam in South Wales and also the publication of the Rail Accident Investigation Brach (RAIB) report into the death of a track worker at Purley in November 2018.

The TSSA evidence paper concludes that ‘when we consider the number of near misses within the industry, it can be construed that we have been extremely fortunate that we have not been discussing much higher fatality figures given that a significant number of track workers that have ‘got clear’ within a few seconds or less of passing trains’.

The author of the paper, TSSA Policy Officer, Rob Jenks, in writing to the Williams Review says - ‘Essentially our point is that whilst Britain’s railways are seen as amongst the safest in the world, that situation is now seriously under threat by a combination of a rise in the number of near misses that are occurring as well as an increase in incidents arising from line blockages. In both these areas, the safety of track workers is put at risk.

‘Our concern is that in any change that results from the Williams Review, safety or staff working on the railway must be front and centre and not compromised by any other considerations, like cost cutting or profit’.

Commenting, TSSA General Secretary, Manuel Cortes, said: “On Saturday (5th October) we commemorated the 20th anniversary of the Ladbroke Grove rail disaster in which 31 lives were lost and many more were left seriously injured. Our thoughts are with those who lost loved ones and those who suffered injuries.

“Sadly, what happened at Ladbroke Grove and later at Hatfield and Potters Bar is a poignant reminder that safety on our railways can never be taken for granted and that the privatisation of our rail infrastructure led to a sub-standard safety regime. We can never return to those dark days.

"Our union will fight tooth and nail any attempt to break up and privatise publicly owned Network Rail. In fact, what we urgently need to make our industry safer and more efficient to end its fragmentation by bringing train operations back into public ownership."

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