Covid-19 Strategies - Transport for Wales

Our Ref: HSR/1/3
Head Office Circular: NP/156/20
23rd June 2020
To: The Secretary

Dear Colleague,


Your Cambrian Branch submitted the following resolution:

This branch is extremely concerned about the inactivity of Transport for Wales (TfW) management regarding certain Covid 19 issues that have, in the last two months, been raised by our members, reps and Company Council. It seems that TfW management are sitting on their hands hoping the situation disappears or are assuming the government will ease restrictions soon.

The main issues of concern are as follows:

Marking of carriages and blocking of access
Some TOC's have instigated the blocking of parts of trains for staff access for the purpose of their duties by things, such as signage and perspex sheets,. They have also instigated marking of seats and areas of the train to encourage passengers to social distance whilst travelling. TfW have so far issued guards with scripted announcements, striped tape and a laminated sheet to discourage passengers from entering rear vestibules.

Adequate rolling stock to enable social distancing
Trains being run into main hubs such as Cardiff, Manchester and Birmingham are sometimes short formed making social distancing of two metres impossible. Many examples of trains running with just a two car class 158 from Birmingham to Shrewsbury have been highlighted locally. With various guidelines stating that social distancing dictates that train loading should only be 15 – 20%, two carriage trains should only be carrying up to 30 passengers. As lock-down is being eased these trains will become more and more busy with pressure on guards to carry above what we consider to be safe.

Working of short platform stations
There are a number of short platforms across the TfW network, many of which require local instructions that only middle doors can be operated for boarding and alighting trains. In these circumstances, a guard would be required to pass through at least one carriage of the train to get to the said door to be opened. On passing through carriages with passengers, with the width of trains being about 2.5 metres, it is almost certain that the 2 metre distancing guidelines will be broken, putting our members at risk from exposure to the virus. It has been suggested that TfW could bring in other agreeable working arrangements or even close some short platform stations, which are predominantly rural locations with other more accessible stations available nearby.

Provision of face masks
Apparently, face masks have been distributed to locations across the TfW network, only to be stored without being allocated. There has been no safety brief or instruction on the use of these masks or the disposal of used items. It seems that TfW do not class these masks as PPE. This branch feels this is the case to cut out their responsibilities for their use.

This branch respectfully instructs the General Secretary to contact TfW immediately and ask them to convene a meeting of the Company Council and Health and Safety reps to come to a satisfactory safe conclusion to eradicate these issues to create a safe working environment for our members. If these issues are not sorted by 15th June 2020, our members will be in dispute with TfW and will advise our members the following, which is our right under section 44 of the Health and Safety Act 1996:
To refuse to work trains that are not marked to advocate social distancing.
To refuse to work trains that are short formed for services to main hubs.
To refuse to stop trains at short platform stations where use of the rear door is not possible.

At its meeting on 17th June 2020, your NEC noted and adopted the following report from its Health and Safety Sub-committee:

We note with concern the resolution from our Cambrian Branch and that the Assistant General Secretary is attending a Welsh Government Transport Select Committee meeting on 18th June 2020 where these concerns will be raised. We instruct the General Secretary to formally write to Transport for Wales to ensure the Branch’s concerns are addressed to their satisfaction. A further report on the outcomes to be placed back in front of this National Executive Committee.

Branches and Regional Councils be advised.

I have written to Transport for Wales accordingly and will place the reply before your NEC.

Please make the contents of this Circular available to all appropriate members.

Yours Sincerely

Mick Cash
General Secretary