Coronavirus – Temporary Principles Document for Staffing of ECR Locations



Our Ref: BR4/Covid-19


21st March 2020



Dear Colleague,


Coronavirus – Temporary Principles Document for Staffing of ECR Locations


I am writing to you today to advise you that contingency provisions have been put in place by Network Rail in these unprecedented times in an effort to keep the railway’s running and enable key workers to get to their place of work.


I have to emphasise to you that we are experiencing extraordinary times and I am sure members will want to play their part in assisting our communities through this health crisis particularly in assisting our fellow key workers in getting to the workplace and maintain the movement of essential freight and goods. This means that a railway service will be maintained despite the problems we all face. However, I can assure you that the provisions discussed with your union and set out in this document are temporary only for the period of this crisis and will not be allowed to affect or impinge on our permanent agreements, terms, conditions and arrangements.


The provisions, together with Network Rail’s statement are printed below in full.


At these very difficult times the union is doing its best to keep union services and advice forthcoming and I will keep you advised of developments as and when they happen.


Best wishes,


Mick Cash

General Secretary




Network Rail Statement:

“This document represents the company’s position on temporary contingent provisions during the current health emergency crisis.  These are temporary provisions targeted only at the current emergency and will lapse and be removed once that health emergency has passed.

The provisions have been compiled following discussions with RMT, TSSA & Unite representatives but do not represent a collective agreement or a revision to the permanent collectively bargained terms, conditions, agreements and arrangements which will remain in place.

The provisions may need to be revised during the course of the health emergency and discussions with RMT, TSSA & Unite will continue.”


Roster Cover and Staffing principles as guidance to local agreements

  • Normal rostering and overtime / free day working to go to existing staff before any other options utilized. All management & rostering to be managed at local level by ECROM & ECOs.  
  • ECO normal working in current location on longer permissible hours (relaxation of fatigue index)
  • Adopt Emergency 12hr roster where not already implemented for a short-term period until staffing levels return to a workable level.
  • Other ECOs from other ECRs to be seconded into to cover short term staff shortage, ECOs competency have previously worked at ECR location, (degraded working implemented for critical work to provide priorities for infrastructure resilience). Only Critical night-time possessions to be allowed, workload to be accessed nightly. 
  • Other ECOs from other locations that are not location competent or have previously worked at that location, single manning implemented for emergencies only.
  • ECO single staff at ECR with no cover from available from another competent ECO then a contingent member of Ops staff / manager looking after Welfare of ECO on duty.
  • If no cover is available from a competent ECO for the current location, then a competent contingency manager will be used on a caretaker position.      

Note: through each step of changing operational arrangements consideration needs to be given of workload and any required reduction of activities taking place across the control room geographical area. Workload may be reduced to a level that allows some resource to be stood down to allow rest and self-isolation, this will be agreed locally.


National principles for covering ECR locations during period affected by Coronavirus 

Managers that do not hold competencies for ECR locations will not be used as contingent ECO staff.

No individual will be negatively financially impacted by these arrangements

ECO staff will be guaranteed payment based on existing earnings. This includes night turn allowance E.g. when the company ask you to stay away from the workplace 

Season ticket holders now expected to drive due to lack of train service or take taxis, to be reimbursed costs. Where practical the company to pre book & pay for taxi journeys.

If staff are asked to volunteer to self-isolate away from their home to hotels, they are to be compensated by way of an agreed disturbance allowance incorporating allowances for meals 

No instances of sickness for COV19 to be subject to the company’s MFH policy. Self-isolation shown as “under manager direction” on the roster rather than sick.

During or prior to planned leave the company to credit back to the employee the spoilt leave should the employee be required to self-isolate.

ECO’s who agree to work at a location not their normal place of work, will receive the higher rate of pay if applicable and travel expenses. 


Mitigation of Risk for ECR locations during period affected by Coronavirus 

All non-essential work to be cancelled at operator’s discretion in consultation with the ECROM & Route Control.

ECR workstations to cleaned & sanitized prior to taking up shift & at regular intervals where possible, full arrangements for cleaning to be agreed locally.

Anybody showing signs of Coronavirus to be removed from premises & reported to Route Control & ECROM.

Cleaning contractors to allowed onto building for general cleaning & sanitization of premises, all other persons to be restricted access unless deemed necessary by ECROM or ECO.

Visits to ECR Locations to be kept to an absolute minimum – no LOMs or MOMs unless operationally necessary in line with government advice & social distancing.