Received from: RMT
Congress notes with deep sadness and dismay the death of two Network Rail track workers who were also RMT members, after they were hit by a train at Margam, South Wales on 3 July. Such tragedies also have a devastating effect on other rail workers and communities involved.
This tragedy occurred despite previous warnings from the Rail Accident Investigation Branch that there has been “too many near misses in which railway workers have had to jump for their lives.”
Despite these warnings the safety regulator, the Office of Rail and Road (ORR), has failed to take effective action against Network Rail. Congress is concerned the ORR is also the railway economic regulator seeking to reduce Network Rail costs.
Rail workers are also increasingly at risk of assault, with a 27 per cent increase in assaults in the last year. The Railway Safety Standards Board (RSSB), which is responsible for coordinating the industry response, is funded by the railway companies and has done little to address this risk.
Congress also notes both the ORR and RSSB have sided with, and coordinated responses with, the government and train companies to attack the unions safety concerns relating to driver-only operation during the current disputes. This has included the RSSB highlighting the financial benefits of sacking guards.
Congress believes the development and enforcement of rail safety standards and regulation should be reformed as soon as possible so that it is genuinely independent and separated from economic regulation and the interests of private rail companies.
National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers