9 October 2018
RMT Press Office:
RMT says shocking Peckham Rye incident report backs union call for a guard on all trains.
RAIL UNION RMT said today that the Rail Accident Investigation Branch’s (RAIB) report into a potentially fatal incident at Peckham Rye last year – which has been released today - wholly reinforces and underpins the union case for a safety-critical guard on-board all trains.
On Tuesday 7 November 2017, a London Overground service from Dalston Junction to Battersea Park, operated by Arriva Rail London, came to a stop shortly before reaching Peckham Rye station. A faulty component on the train had caused the brakes to apply, and the driver was unable to release them. There were about 450 passengers on the train at the time. Having spoken to the service controller, train technicians, and the signaller the driver was given permission to begin evacuating the train assisted by a member of staff from Peckham Rye station.
The evacuation, however, had to be abandoned when it was realised that passengers were disembarking from the train very close to the still live electric conductor rail.
The RAIB report points out that the primary cause of this scenario was ‘task overload’ and ‘stress’ for the driver brought on by having to simultaneously communicate with control room staff whilst also dealing with growing passenger unrest caused by the delay. The RAIB also points out that the fragmentation on the railway, combined with inexperienced and over-worked staff, was a significant factor in the communication breakdown on the night.
RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said:
“Frankly, it defies belief that a group of profit hungry, private train-operators and their politically motivated puppet masters at the DfT and other agencies continue to peddle the myth that Driver Only Operation is a safe procedure. It was pure luck that there wasn’t a major tragedy at Peckham Rye last November and anyone who leaves safety to chance on our railways should have no place in the industry.
“It goes without saying that had there been a safety-critical trained guard on-board this train, not only would they have been able to calm the frustrated and angry passengers but they would also have been able to assist with a safe and orderly evacuation, having first ensured that the current to the live rail had been switched off.
“Once again we urge the Tory government and their private rail contractors to pull back from their reckless and ideologically driven pursuit to hack back staffing levels and the safety culture on our railways and to support RMT’s call for a guard guarantee on our trains.”
RAIB Report here: