Stonehaven interim report

10 September 2020

Mick Whelan, general secretary, and Kevin Lindsay, our organiser in Scotland, today spoke out after publication of an interim Network Rail report into the rail crash at Stonehaven, in Aberdeenshire, on Wednesday 12 August, in which three people died.

 

Mick Whelan said: 'The task of maintaining Britain's railway infrastructure was taken away from Railtrack, the private company set up after John Major privatised the railways, and handed to Network Rail twenty years ago when it became clear that the company had neglected to maintain the infrastructure properly and did not, in fact, even know the state of many of its "assets".

 

'It is a sobering thought this morning that, twenty years on, we seem to be in a similar position and that is the reason why three people tragically lost their lives at Carmont.'

 

Kevin Lindsay said: 'This report, which we welcome, raises rather more questions than answers. Why, for instance, has it taken the loss of three lives for the Tory government at Westminster to ask for a report of this nature from Network Rail, when those of us who work in the rail industry have known about these problems – and called for action to put them right – for many years?

 

'Why has it taken the loss of three lives for Network Rail to set up an Earthworks management task force? Why is there no date by which it has to report?'

 

ASLEF is calling on Network Rail to list the 584 'at risk' sites and reveal what immediate actions are being taken at these sites. We understand that at several of these sites Network Rail has identified serious defects that have significantly deteriorated and these sites require action sooner than originally planned.

 

'Safety is paramount on the railway,' said Mick Whelan, 'so we need to know what the timescales are for this work.'

 

Environment law in Scotland is controlled by the Scottish Parliament and ASLEF wants to know how – and when – the weather advisory group set up by Network Rail will report to MSPs at Holyrood.

 

As the Scottish government has control over rail services ASLEF is also calling for Network Rail Scotland to be devolved to the Scottish Parliament. 

 

'Following the tragedy at Stonehaven, there have been 848 inspections of earthworks in Scotland, including aerial survey by helicopter, and specialist inspections on foot by trained geotechnical inspectors and engineers,' said Kevin Lindsay. 'We want those sites to be made public – along with the actions being taken to put right what is wrong.'

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