13 March 2007

ASLEF celebrated International Safety Day today by drawing attention to its ‘Squash’ campaign at London Bridge station in London. National executive members, regional representatives and members of the union’s Southeast region distributed leaflets and stickers on and around the forecourt. They were joined by Eddie Dickson, representing the International Transport Federation.

Squash is the union’s campaign to secure for its train driver members cabs that are Safe, Quiet, User-friendly, Air-conditioned, Specially seated and Healthy (SQUASH).

ASLEF general secretary Keith Norman says, ‘No matter how hard a driver tries, it is impossible to maintain necessary levels of concentration in a cab that lacks basic facilities like air conditioning.’ The union says some drivers’ cabs are ‘clearly not fit for purpose.’

Campaigners at the stations today represented each of the points the union is raising in its ‘Squash’ campaign.

‘The union points to ‘conclusive evidence’ from Rail Safety and Standards Board reports from July 2006 which showed that high temperatures increased potential hazards on the line (SPADs) by a massive 62%. ‘Had the cabs been fitted with modern air cooling systems, this could have been avoided,’ said Keith Norman.

Eddie Dickson offered the ITF’s full support for the Squash initiative on the grounds that it was not only a valid industrial claim, but also a significant improvement to rail safety.

These are a few extracts from letters from the experts – train drivers themselves – to the ASLEF Journal over the past few months …

'The cab temperature peaked at 39.4 C and it never went below 38.5 C during the entire duty'

'We were working underground in places where the average air temperature was 130 degrees Fahrenheit in the tunnel - so god only knows what it reached in our tin boxes!'

'Our cabs feature tip-up seats without any adjustment whatsoever.'


'Water began coming in the roof panels on each side above the doors -it was running into the 
power brake control system.'

'How long do we have to wait before excessive heat leads to someone passing out at the controls of a 1,500 ton train at 75 mph?'

'High pitched whistling from the vestibule door.'

'Drivers are failing medicals because of hearing loss … we've complained to everyone we can about noise.'

'In winter we freeze because the cab heater fails to overcome the chilly draughts.'


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