UK's a laughing stock

30 January 2019

We are the laughing stock of the international railway community. After inventing the railway, and selling our expertise abroad, we now introduce trains with windscreens not suitable to observe signals; trains that cannot operate with technology we were assured was fit for purpose; and trains where the software impacts on the signalling system. And surely no one would dream of putting hydrogen technology on 20 year old trains and claiming they were new, would they?


It would be even odder if, having bought new trains that do not fit the platforms, anyone would, in degraded working, think it a good idea to have a driver leaping on and off the train, along the ballast, and up the platform slope, to check the doors; and then running back to clamber onto the train! Quite sure no company or stakeholder would recommend that because of the domino effect on safety on our congested multi-user railway. The simple solution is the trains must come out of service or run on conventional working.


After the sharp rise in sexual assaults on the main line we have an increase in violent crime on the Tube. This is not the result of better reporting but of a sea change in society. We still have one of the safest transport systems in the world but it's time to reassess all working for the safety of both passengers and staff. It is also necessary to reassure those who go to the assistance of other staff that they will be respected and protected from repercussions when it is patently obvious their actions are justified. It is time for the employers to take action against those who behave inappropriately then make up allegations against staff.


The driver's train licence is causing problems in its application. We are seeking to address and clarify all the concerns; this is, of course, outside the CDP/CMS or discipline process.


Whatever view you hold on Brexit the whole country it seems is united in thinking that Theresa May's deal is not fit for purpose and that a no deal scenario is filled with risk because of a government which has failed to prepare properly. Meanwhile we see the fourth railway package being introduced in France against the wishes of the unions and the populace. 


It was with great pleasure that I attended, along with DO3 Andy Hourigan and EC3 John Metcalfe, the inaugural meeting of Blackburn branch and we wish them all the best and echo their thanks to Preston and their reps for all their support and assistance. 


On a more disturbing note, long-term driver, friend and union activists Andy Derrett disappeared whilst at work before Christmas. His family and friends just want to know if he is ok. If anyone has any knowledge, please respond to the family's plea?


Mick Whelan

General Secretary 

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