RAIL UNION RMT today called for an immediate halt to Network Rail’s plans to axe up to 1500 safety-critical maintenance jobs after it was revealed that the company has been served a Prohibition Notice by the Office of Rail Regulation over a shortage of lookouts to ensure safe track working in South Wales.
In the Prohibition Notice, served by Dr Liesel von Metz, HM Inspector of Railways, it says that:
“I am of the opinion that there is an immediate risk of harm to the trackworkers undertaking foot patrols on the railway line between Cardiff Central and Aberdare, Rhymney, Treherbert and Merthyr Tydfil. I have therefore served Prohibition Notice P/LVM/20100205/01 on Network Rail Infrastructure Ltd, requiring that the activity of crossing structures with no place of safety under RZ(Red Zone) conditions be ceased.”
RMT have repeatedly warned that the maintenance job cuts planned by Network Rail, which are already being implemented by the non-filling of vacancies, would have lethal consequences. The South Wales Prohibition Notice reinforces the union case.
RMT have assembled evidence of cuts in numbers and frequencies of essential inspections and maintenance works the length and breadth of the country that mirror the situation in South Wales that has led to the intervention of the Inspector of Railways.
RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said today:
“The Inspectorate has given Network Rail a red card in South Wales and slapped the highest sanction it can on them other than dragging them into Court. That is how serious the shortage of staff has become and we know from reports from our members that we are facing the same lethal cocktail of planned staff cuts and unfilled vacancies right across the country.
“We are heading for a major disaster out on the tracks if Network Rail don’t slam the breaks on the maintenance job cuts programme. The Government cannot stand idly by while safety-critical posts are either axed or left unfilled in a reckless gamble with staff and passenger lives.”