May 2012 Folly in Preston, threats in London...

01 June 2013

The folly of railway finances was nowhere more evident last month than when Network Rail was fined £5 million for its failings over the Grayrigg derailment and the Elsenham crossing tragedy. Our President Alan Donnelly joined other union members protesting at this foolishness outside Preston Crown Court.

I find it appalling that money is taken away from the body entrusted with ensuring line and signalling safety – and in the process limiting work that could usefully be carried out – while those senior managers responsible walk away without a stain on their working record.

If one of our members was guilty of a breach of safety regulations, he or she would be penalised, perhaps dismissed. Yet Network Rail managers blithely admit their guilt for what the rail regulator described as ‘a preventable incident’ saying, ‘It was clear that the infrastructure was at fault and we accept responsibility.’ And then – nothing. That’s it as far as they are concerned. At the same time if one of our members passes a signal at danger, he or she will be personally held responsible. It is clearly unjust.

All these fines do is impose more cuts in Network Rail’s budget: which in turn means our railway infrastructure is further endangered.

Our members in London face an addiitonal threat - the re-election of Boris Johnson as Mayor of London. Boris has demonstrated his hostility to train drivers in three ways: he has complained about the level of our terms and conditions, all of which have been freely negotiated: he advocates driverless tube trains, without knowing the facts; and he is seeking to put limits on our ability to take industrial action.

That is why I urge all our members within Greater London to make sure they register a vote in the election for London mayor on 3 May: and for all our sakes, to put their cross next to the name of Ken Livingstone.

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