‘ACT now to stop another rail tragedy’, demanded the RMT rail union yesterday, in a demonstration alongside members of sister union TSSA outside the headquarters of Network Rail.
Dozens of members of both unions waved flags, hooted horns and held up placards warning: ‘Rail cuts cost lives!’
The RMT said: ‘Network Rail chief executive Iain Coucher has announced that in a matter of months 1,500 workers responsible for inspecting and repairing the track, signals and overhead lines are to be sacked as part of an “efficiency’’ drive.
‘Hundreds of workers have contacted a confidential email line to say lives could be put at risk. Examples include:
• ‘Reducing track safety inspections
• ‘Delaying the repair of faulty level crossings
• ‘Reducing safety checks on railway signals.’
MPs and leaders of the RMT and TSSA joined yesterday’s protest at King’s Cross.
RMT members Ian Foster, Chris Reilly and Ellroy Duke gave their views.
‘We don’t agree with the cuts,’ said Ian Foster.
Chris Reilly said: ‘Yesterday our membership made a democratic decision to take industrial action, which we don’t take lightly.
‘We don’t want to go out, but we have to take action to defend our members and the public’s safety, because rail cuts will cost lives.’
‘What we want to see is the re-nationalisation of the railways,’ Ellroy Duke said.
Mick Lynch, a member of the RMT executive, told News Line: ‘It’s about the reorganisation of the company which we think is putting safety at risk as well as the jobs of our members.’
He added: ‘1,500 staff of Network Rail face redundancy and there were redundancies all last year at Jarvis and Babcock and there’s more coming at Balfour Beatty – another 160 there.
‘It means they’re going to automate all the track inspections, that’s the thrust of the reorganisation,’ he warned.
‘Rather than inspect tracks on foot, visually and properly, they’re going to automate with ultrasonic machines on the trains and cameras on high speed trains.
‘We’re warning you could have another Potters Bar or Hatfield.
‘They’re already doing test inspections.’