TSSA issues safety warning over Network Rail maintenance cuts
Rail union TSSA has issued a warning about Network Rail’s drive to cut back on scheduled maintenance and some aspects of track renewal after a series of track defects in recent days.
BBC South Transport Correspondent, Paul Clifton, took to Twitter/X to highlight three separate broken or cracked rails on the route from London Paddington to Didcot Parkway.
Network Rail responded that ‘safety is our highest priority’ and ‘we don’t believe this is a trend problem’, adding that action had quickly been taken.
TSSA has previously warned Network Rail (13 October 2023) about ‘wholly unnecessary safety risks on the railways’. This came after Network Rail announced a cull of almost 500 jobs in cost cutting measures, with cuts to the High Output Track Renewals Team, which replaces old rails and sleepers, using highly-specialist on-track machinery.
Commenting, TSSA General Secretary, Maryam Eslamdoust said: “We are deeply concerned to see faults of this nature going undetected. Luckily on these occasions no one was hurt, but on any other day this could have led to catastrophe.
“Unfortunately, with Network Rail's drive to cut back on scheduled maintenance and some elements of track renewal, we fear that going forward incidents of this nature will become more prevalent.
“We strongly believe that the changes Network Rail are looking to implement – reduction in staffing numbers; changes to ways people work and the significant reduction in routine inspection and maintenance work – pose a very real threat to the future safe running of the railway.”
*TSSA represents clerical, supervisory, technical and management grades employed by Network Rail. We do this on both a collective and individual basis.
*Network Rail owns and maintains Britain’s rail infrastructure, including tracks, bridges, tunnels, viaducts, signalling, and many of the biggest stations.