1 August 2018
RMT Press Office:
As ACAS talks get underway RMT sets out catalogue of safety abuses during recent South Western Railway strike days
As talks aimed at resolving the dispute over the axing of safety-critical guards on South Western Railway get underway at ACAS today, rail union RMT has written to the safety regulator, the ORR, setting out a catalogue of fundamental and dangerous safety abuses throughout the recent strike days as a result of the company paying volunteers to act up as guards regardless of the risks to the travelling public.
The union complaints include:
• Unskilled, inexperienced and poorly trained volunteers triggering the start signal to drivers on red signals at Raynes Park, Twickenham, St Margarets and Effingham Junction. A dangerous move creating the potential for a signal to be passed at danger (SPAD).
• Selective door operation not being applied at both Swaythling and Clapham Junction with doors released off the platform creating a serious risk of passengers falling on the tracks.
• Doors released after a driver stopped short at Overton station, again creating a real danger of passengers falling onto the tracks.
• Passengers left to lift a wheelchair onto a train at Strawberry Hill due to the failure of a temporary guard to assist, raising serious risks for the passengers and wheelchair user alike.
RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said:
“We are entering talks today through ACAS in good faith with the objective of reaching a solution that underpins the guard guarantee on South Western Railway in the same way that we have negotiated settlements with other train operating companies.
“The catalogue of failures we have raised with the safety regulator today show just how dangerous it is to run a railway on a wing and a prayer without competent, trained and experienced staff. No one should be playing Russian Roulette with passenger safety on our railways in this cavalier fashion.
“These potentially lethal failures can be avoided in the future if we secure an agreement that puts safety and access first.”
Full text of letter to ORR below. Next strike date on South Western Railway is set for Saturday 4th August.
HM Chief Inspector of Railways
One Kemble Street
SOUTH WESTERN RAILWAYS INDUSTRIAL TRADE DISPUTE – REPLACEMENT LABOUR
It has been brought to my attention that serious incidents have taken place during the dispute with SWR between the 26th 28th & 31st July on Strike days.
Staff with limited knowledge and baseline training were always going to be put in a position of chance and risk as train operators continue to play Russian roulette with train dispatch and passenger safety.
An indication of the hazard and risk being created under these circumstances, are as follows;
• 2M14 ready to start signal by under skilled ‘Temporary-Guard’ given to driver on a red signal at Raynes Park, therefore SPAD risk.
• 2R27 ready to start signal by under skilled ‘Temporary-Guard’ given to driver on a red signal at Twickenham, therefore SPAD risk.
• 1L36 Selective Door Operation not applied at Clapham Junction, therefore doors were released off the platform, passengers could have fallen onto the tracks, doors with no platform available were open for 90 seconds.
• 2K31 ready to start signal by under skilled ‘Temporary -Guard given to driver on a Red signal at St Margaret’s,
• 1L55 Driver stopped short at Overton station, full door release given meaning doors were released off the platform and passengers could have fallen/slipped from train onto the tracks.
• 2F03 ready to start signal by under skilled ‘Temporary-Guard’ given to driver on a Red signal Wimbledon, SPAD risk.
• 2D07 ready to start signal by Guard given to driver on a red signal Effingham Junction, again a SPAD risk.
• 2S43 Selective Door Operation not applied at Swaythling, therefore doors were released off the platform were passengers could have fallen/slipped onto the tracks.
• Unidentified train at Strawberry Hill passengers lifting wheelchair passenger onto train as under skilled ‘Temporary-Guard’ did not assist. The risks to both the passenger and the wheelchair user can not be understated.
This is what we are aware of, there may very well be more and worse.
The companys log will give an indication to that, I am asking that your inspector’s are sent to investigate with a clear remit of regulating safety and ensuring that the standards that are in place for safety critical staff is maintained to the highest standards and not watered down under any circumstances, including through trade disputes.
Please ensure that your inspectors are available and that a copy of any given report is made available to me.
I look forward to your early response.