RMT_safety_picRAIL UNION RMT today reissued the call for Network Rail to halt its maintenance cuts programme as it emerged this morning that the company has been hit with an Improvement Notice covering the South East Territory. This latest notice, which follows on from Improvement and Prohibition Notice’s served on Network Rail in Wales, is specifically over contravention of the Health and Safety Acts in respect of visual inspections to bridges and other structures.

The Office of Rail Regulation refer specifically to a massive backlog of safety inspection work across the South East and in a letter to Network Rail say that their inquiries have:

“…revealed significant issues with the inspection process, including but not limited to seriously out of date detailed inspections and visual inspections which did not meet the requirements of the standards for such matters.”

In advance of talks with Network Rail today, over disputes involving maintenance and signals workers, RMT have seized on the latest Notice as further evidence that the cuts have already gone too far and are compromising public safety before the impact of axing 1500 further staff, piling extra duties on signallers and changing working practices is felt.

Bob Crow, RMT General Secretary, said:

“There is growing evidence across the country that Network Rail’s cuts programme is already hitting the critical safety inspection regime hard and this reinforces our case that the company should now pull back from the brink before lethal damage is done.

“There is already a shortage of staff and to be axing maintenance posts and lumping extra work onto signallers under these circumstances is a reckless gamble with rail safety.”