TSSA remembering Margam

Today marks the first anniversary of the tragic deaths of two Network Rail (NR) maintenance workers at Margam, near Port Talbot in South Wales.

Gareth Delbridge (who was 64) and Michael "Spike" Lewis (aged 58) were hit by the train travelling from Swansea to London Paddington. Our thoughts remain with their family and friends - they are gone but not forgotten.

Our union will always commemorate the dead, whilst also doing, all we can to fight for the living.

Over the past twelve months we have seen progress when it comes to keeping people safe going about their work on the tracks. Our union has been very vocal in continuing to press NR for improvements in the area of track safety.

We learned – via a report from the Rail Accidents Investigation Branch – there were no formally appointed lookouts at the site where the two rail workers were hit and killed. Our union will always put your safety first and we welcomed NR establishing a safety taskforce in the wake of the deaths at Margam.

We have taken an active role working with the taskforce and are now seeing downward trends in the use of unassisted lookouts, increased use of methods of protection whilst works takes place, and more technology to drive safer solutions in our working environments.

However still more needs to be delivered to reach our collective goals – such as speeding up the roll-out of Track Circuit Operating Devices (TCODS) – a simple, cheap and effective means of providing protection to those working on the track by activating track circuits to show the track section being worked on; not relying solely on the signaller for protection.

Progress is being made, but there is much still to do. We know a train nearly hit a track worker in Bedfordshire last month. The incident involved the train – travelling from London Euston to Liverpool Lime Street – passing dangerously close to the worker at Leighton Buzzard.

We know NR is working on long-term improvements but risks to track workers remain too high, with too many near misses. Together we must keep pushing for ever greater progress to save lives.

So, we will continue to work with employers to ensure incidents like Margam are reduced to zero while at the same time making our concerns clear on NR’s so-called 'Putting Passengers First' reorganisation and the regional devolution of safety management this entails.