RMT demands Network Rail reinstates look out patrols in Cumbria following another runaway near Tebay

RMT is demanding Network Rail re-instate lookout patrols in the Lancashire and Cumbria region following another runaway incident near Tebay where four RMT members died in a similar incident in 2004.

In the latest incident on Tuesday morning at around 2am a DB Schenker freight train rolled backwards from Shap Fell, the highest point in Britain’s rail network, towards Tebay for over a mile.

Only quick-thinking signalling staff in Carlisle prevented another tragedy.

RMT general secretary Bob Crow said that it unbelievably reckless to remove lookouts in an area where four RMT members were killed at Tebay in 2004 and there was a terrible derailment at Grayrigg.

“This is just the latest runaway rail vehicles from London Underground and in Scotland yet Network Rail is playing fast and loose with safety in the name of cutting costs.

“We have also been calling for secondary protection for track workers during track possessions since the tragic events of Tebay.

“RMT is advising members to not work if they believe it is not safe,” he said.

After the publication of the report on the investigation into Grayrigg, the Rail Accident Investigation Branch report appendices made reference to the four men killed at Tebay and that it also noted the Working Arrangements particular to that area – that a lookout was considered normal practice.

Network Rail’s own staff survey, which is alluded to in the RAIB’s October 2009 Runaways of Road Rail Vehicles report, states that 40 per cent of staff feel time-pressured and 20 per cent feel peer-pressured into unsafe working practices. Some of RAIB’s recommendations from the investigation were to look at requirements of personnel and warning systems.

“Even Network Rail must find it difficult to imagine that the recommendations mean a reduction of lookouts,” said Bob Crow.

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