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Head Office Circular No: NP/024/2015
Our Ref: HSR/2/1
12th December 2015
All Regional Councils
Further to Head Office Circular NP/277/14, 24th December 2014 I am writing to advise you on developments with this matter.
Sunday 15th February 2015 will see the 11th anniversary of the tragedy at Tebay in which, due to the criminal negligence of one of Network Rail’s sub-contractors, four men, Colin Buckley, Darren Burgess, Chris Waters and Gary Tindall, were killed. All four men were employed on the railway and were members of the RMT. In addition to the deceased, six other members of the gang received physical and psychological injuries.
Two men were found guilty of the manslaughter of the victims at Newcastle Crown Court. Mark Connolly was jailed for 9 years (reduced to 7 at Appeal) and Roy Kennett was jailed for two years.
As in previous years the anniversary will be marked by a commemorative rally at the site of the memorial stone, just south of Tebay village, that marks the tragedy, commencing at 12:00. Members and officers of the RMT as well as other trade unions will attend to remember the disaster.
As we have stated previously, despite the changes made by the industry since the tragedy, a real risk of track-workers being struck by a runaway vehicle still remains. Last year we reported that, thanks to the tireless campaign of the Tebay survivors, the RMT Lancaster Branch and representatives of the Union, real protection was now one step closer.
However I have to report that all the promises that made us so optimistic last year have been broken and there has still not been deployment of adequate secondary protection for our track-workers.
It is simply not acceptable to the RMT that Network Rail do not give this project higher priority. RMT are frustrated that it is taking Network Rail this length of time to get a product onto the infrastructure while every day track-workers face the same risks as faced by those workers killed and injured at Tebay.
There is however some progress: RMT representatives met with Network Rail on 12th February 2015 and I am able to report that 60 Rearguard secondary warning systems have now been delivered to the routes from the manufacturer as part of a centrally funded and agreed national programme.
In addition Network Rail have committed that by 29th May 2015 they will have completed the following points:
- Network Rail shall have a policy in place, jointly agreed with the RMT, whereby use of the Rearguard equipment is mandated in all circumstances unless it can be demonstrated that other mitigations are in place that makes the equipment unnecessary when controlling the risk from runaways.
- Network Rail shall have a flow chart in place, developed in conjunction with RMT, that supports the risk assessment process above.
- Network Rail shall have developed a communications plan to highlight and support the national roll-out of the equipment. RMT have will support this communication plan through use of its own media.
- Network Rail shall have a full training programme in place that will ensure that all staff who need to use the equipment are fully conversant with its method of use. RMT have proposed that to assist the company we will seek volunteers from amongst our Area and Local Health and Safety Reps to deliver the training.
Network Rail have also agreed to offer a demonstration of the Rearguard system to relatives and survivors of the Tebay tragedy. I hope this will help to demonstrate, once and for all, that the risks of death or serious injury from a runaway are finally reduced to as low as possible and that in the future infrastructure workers will not face the risk of death or serious injury that have so tragically blighted the lives of those families.