Our ref: HSR

Head Office Circular: NP/13/24

16th January 2024

To: The Secretary




Dear Colleague,




Your Paddington No1 branch submitted the following resolution:


This branch notes that in the last two weeks of November 2023 there were four broken rail incidents on Network Rail Western Route's railway line between Paddington and Swindon (at Iver, Bourton, Slough and Stockley).  Any of these could have led to a train derailing, potentially causing injuries or worse, to passengers and staff on board.  In addition, precautionary emergency speed restrictions have been imposed between Twyford and Slough due to concerns over track quality at a number of sites.

This branch also notes that a year has now passed since Network Rail imposed their Modernising Maintenance programme, slashing thousands of track worker jobs, including those who inspect, maintain, and repair the track.  In addition, Network Rail are planning to cut hundreds of jobs in their Track Renewals Service organisation, the staff who renew and replace life-expired track.

This branch believes that the cuts in maintenance and renewals by Network Rail are putting passengers and staff at risk and would like the regulatory authorities to investigate the link between the reduction in maintenance staff and this unexpected increase on broken rails on Western Route.  It is our members that work on board trains out of Paddington, as staff and contractors working for GWR and MTREL.  They are naturally concerned over these kinds of incidents.

This branch requests the General Secretary to:

Write to the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) raising concerns over the number of these severe incidents on Network Rail Western Route, and to request ORR investigate a link between the Modernising Maintenance programme and associated job reductions and these incidents occurring.

Raise the matter immediately with train operating and freight operating companies that operate over the line, asking for the steps they are taking to ensure staff and passenger safety on board the trains they run on the line.

Increase public awareness of how job cuts in Network Rail maintenance and renewals could lead to an increase in potentially serious incidents, putting lives at risk.  We would have hoped the train accidents at Hatfield and Potters Bar were a distant memory.



Your National Executive Committee, at its meeting on 11th January 2024, noted and adopted the following report from its Health and Safety sub-committee:


The General Secretary is instructed to thank Paddington No 1 branch for their resolution – and to take up action points in line with the resolution. 


Additionally, the General Secretary is requested to produce a report on members experiences of modernising maintenance. 


Branches and Regional Councils to be advised accordingly. 


This file to be renamed ‘Safety Impact of Modernising Maintenance. 


I am acting in line with these instructions. Please bring the contents of this circular to the attention of relevant members. 


Yours sincerely



Michael Lynch, General Secretary