ASLEF on ORR report into train delays

12 February 2015

Mick Whelan, general secretary of ASLEF, the train drivers’ union, has spoken out after publication of a report by the Office of Rail Regulation criticised ‘significant weaknesses in the planning and oversight’ of engineering work at King’s Cross and Paddington which led to overruns and delays in December.

‘We accept and understand the need for essential engineering work to be done,’ said Mick. ‘But we believe more needs to done to ensure the integrity of the railway. Relying on untested hardware – which caused the problems – borders on negligence.

‘The culture of subcontracting work, which is endemic throughout the railway industry, makes matters worse, not better. It appears that ministers were aware of the possibility of overruns in November. But nothing was done.

‘Delays at King’s Cross were down to untested hardware and delays at Paddington because not enough time was built in to validate the work done.’

Network Rail boss Mark Carne has already admitted: ‘Being sorry is not enough. We have to learn from what happened.’

But Mick said: ‘Apologies and excuses are obviously not adequate to those who pay extortionate fares and those who went to operate trains not knowing when or if they would get home.’

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