Rail union RMT will be joined by colleagues, campaigners, friends and relatives this Sunday to mark the 12th anniversary of the Tebay tragedy, which killed four railway workers, with the simple demand “never again.”
The commemoration, which will be the last event of its kind, will take place on February 14 at the Tebay memorial site just to the south of Tebay village off the A685 at noon.
Carnforth men Colin Buckley, 49, and Darren Burgess, 30, Chris Waters, 53, of Morecambe, and their colleague Gary Tindall, 46, of Tebay, died on February 15 2004 when a runaway trailer crashed into them as they worked in the dark on the West Coast Main Line north of Kendal, Cumbria.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said that pressure from the union, led by the local Lancaster branch, had at last forced through the introduction of a new secondary protection system to give workers ‘one last chance’ to escape from runaways.
The equipment currently being deployed on the London North Western route is called a rearguard system and a national rollout for its use is now under way.
Mr Cash said: “Tebay was not simply an accident despite what some have attempted to claim. The events of that night came about as a direct result of the privatisation and fragmentation of our railways.
“Those dangers still exist on the railway today and RMT continues the fight for proper protection systems to be introduced right across the network and we are at last making some important progress on that very basic demand.
“Twelve years after Tebay, we still have a mess of contractors, subcontractors and a host of labour-only agencies – often using zero hour contracts in a race to the bottom. That’s a breeding ground for over-riding core safety considerations and it must end.
“It also means there is no consistent application of safety standards and no central line of command and communication which in turn means we are constantly running risks that could be eliminated if the fragmentation was dealt with once and for all by bringing all works in-house.”
Mr Cash said that Network Rail had brought rail maintenance back in-house for reasons of safety and efficiency and it should finish that job and bring renewals work back in-house too.
“We should remember again this weekend those who were killed and injured at Tebay, and, as well as continuing the fight for proper protection on the tracks, we also pledge to fight on to end the ludicrous and fragmented set-up that caused the disaster,” he added.