Coronavirus Rail Service Risks

Our Ref: HSR/1/3
Head Office Circular: NP/097/20 (Rev)
29th April 2020
To: The Secretary

Dear Colleague,


There have been a number of reports that it is the UK Government’s intention to see an increase in public transport services and RMT have expressed their serious concerns about this process and the potential increase in risk to RMT members’ health and safety. However a proposal has now been received from the Rail Industry Coronavirus Forum (RICF) and our representatives took part in an initial meeting. The following report was submitted to the National Executive Committee on 28th April 2020:

Your Regional Organiser, North West and the Senior Health and Safety Officer participated in a meeting of the Rail Industry Coronavirus Forum (RICF) set up to examine the risks of increasing rail service levels in the aftermath of the Pandemic. The RMT was one of a number of trade unions involved in the discussions along with representatives from ORR, RSSB and the rail industry. Your representatives at the meeting submitted a set of key risks that RMT believe need to be fully addressed to our satisfaction prior to any increase in services. The list set out key tasks performed by RMT members at stations, on train and in, non-public operational areas.

Following the meeting the RICF is proposing a number of separate working groups are established to look at the key risks and their controls. The question of RMT participation in these smaller groups with a view to developing key industrial principles is a key issue that needs to be addressed. The RMT task list and a report of the meeting are attached to the file along with the request for further participation. The matter is placed before you for consideration.

The National Executive Committee referred the report to their Health and Safety Sub-committee and then noted and adopted the following report:

We note the updated report from the RICF Working group and that the Submission paper on the following groups: Stations, Trains, Non Public Operations, and PPE that this submission is the RMT’s position in regard to any escalation of train services.

This Union is unconvinced that there is any basis at this time for a safe escalation of services and that there will have to be an industry-wide agreement of principles for a graduated increasing services that does not increase danger and risk of virus transmission for our members, passengers or our communities.

Until such an agreement is reached and endorsed by the NEC, the General Secretary is instructed to inform RMT union officers and representatives that they are not to engage in any discussions with companies on this issue at any level.

This principle and instruction applies to all companies.

For LUL/TfL discussions may only take place at Company Council level to develop similar principles and all developments to be reported to this NEC.

The General Secretary is further instructed to ensure this Union’s further engagement and full representation in the RICF and its sub-groups and to place further developments before this NEC.

RMT have grave concerns that these proposals are ill thought out and will not adequately control the risks to workers’ and passengers’ health and safety. The National Executive Committee however still believe that RMT members are best represented by our attendance at these meetings. I will keep you updated on developments in this case as a matter of priority.

Yours sincerely

Mick Cash
General Secretary