Union boss Bob Crow has welcomed Network Rail’s pledge to introduce a new warning system for track workers ahead of the 10th anniversary of the Tebay disaster - but questioned why it’s taken so long.
As revealed by the Lancaster Guardian, the company plans to roll out an alarm-sounding device within months to give maintenance gangs a ten second warning if rail vehicles start running towards them.
Tomorrow, Saturday, February 15, marks a decade since three North Lancashire men and their Cumbrian colleague were killed by a wagon which hurtled down the West Coast Main Line north of Kendal.
Mr Crow, RMT Union general secretary, said: “We are still seeing too many corporate killers let off the hook, and we still need to change the law so that profit-hungry bosses responsible for workers’ deaths end up behind bars where they belong.
“Tebay was not an accident. It was the direct result of the privatisation and fragmentation of our railways.
“Ten years after Tebay, we still have a confusion of contractors, subcontractors and a host of labour-only agencies.
“That means there are no consistent application of safety standards and no central line of command and communication.”
The union argues the underlying causes of Tebay were the “chaos of fragmentation that followed rail privatisation” and the “lack of compulsory secondary protection” at Tebay in 2004.
Mr Crow said Network Rail had brought rail maintenance back in-house for reasons of safety and efficiency and “should finish that job” by bringing renewals work back in-house too.
He added: “We should remember those who were killed and injured at Tebay but we should also pledge to end the ludicrous set-up that caused the disaster.
“Those ever present dangers are compounded by the use of contractors and agencies and the growth of zero-hour contacts and casualisation in this safety critical environment.”
Victims’ families, colleagues, friends and the RMT will attend a commemoration at the site of the tragedy, just south of Tebay village off the A685, at 12pm on Saturday.
The RMT will be represented by the union’s president, Peter Pinkney, and senior assistant general secretary Mick Cash.
*See our six-page special report on the Tebay tragedy in this week’s Lancaster Guardian and on the pages of this website*