14 February 2014
Rail union RMT will be joined by colleagues, campaigners, friends and relatives this Saturday to mark the 10th anniversary of the Tebay tragedy, which killed four RMT members, by calling for secondary protection to be introduced for vulnerable track workers.
The commemoration will take place on Saturday 15th February at the Tebay memorial site just to the south of Tebay village off the A685 at 12:00. RMT will be represented by the union’s president, Peter Pinkney and Senior Assistant General Secretary Mick Cash.
The underlying causes of the tragedy were the chaos of fragmentation that followed rail privatisation and the lack of compulsory secondary protection at Tebay on the West Coast main line in Cumbria that morning in 2004.
RMT general secretary Bob Crow welcomed the news that a new secondary protection was on the way but questioned why it had taken so long.
He also pointed out that that those responsible for Tebay were charged as individuals, not with corporate manslaughter.
“We are still seeing too many corporate killers let off the hook, and we still need to change the law so that profit-hungry bosses responsible for workers’ deaths end up behind bars where they belong,” he said.
He also reiterated the union’s view that privatisation had created a dangerous environment for track workers.
“Tebay was not an accident. It was the direct result of the privatisation and fragmentation of our railways.
“Ten years after Tebay, we still have a confusion of contractors, subcontractors and a host of labour-only agencies.
“That means there are no consistent application of safety standards and no central line of command and communication,” he said.
He said that Network Rail had brought rail maintenance back in-house for reasons of safety and efficiency and it should finish that job and bring renewals work back in-house too.
“We should remember those who were killed and injured at Tebay but we should also pledge to end the ludicrous set-up that caused the disaster,” he said.
He pointed out that the death of a track worker at Saxilby in 2012 whilst working for contractor Sky Blue had shone a spotlight on the dangers inherent in the current working environment of track workers on Britain's railways.
"Those ever present dangers are compounded by the use of contractors and agencies and the growth of zero-hour contacts and casualisation in this safety critical environment,” he said.