RMT raises serious SWR safety breaches

Chrisgr31

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Surely all these alleged breaches of safety were a direct consequence of the strike? So who was really responsible ;) And I suspect most of the public - who unlike Unionistas need to get to work every day by train - would rather a slightly less safe train than none at all (and the consequential loss of income)
Whilst the public might prefer a slightly less safe train I have no doubt they would change their mind if there was an incident! They would be asking why the train was running etc
 
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ComUtoR

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Would you be breeching your contract of employment if you refused to take the train further in passenger use on safety grounds? Maybe it every driver kep doing that something woild get done.

It would need to be on safety grounds, assuming that was not a breech of contract.
Why would doing something for safety reasons be a breach of contract ? However....

A pressure tactic used by management grades is to hang that sword over your head. "Are you refusing Driver.. ?" is a phrase that is well used to pressure a Driver into moving a unit or carrying out an action that breaches procedure/safety; especially where there are grey areas.

It should never be a case of a Driver needing to refuse an action. They should never be asked in the first place. The comment by Bahnause is what should be happening. The service should cease at the moment of incident. That pressure to continue hangs over all of us. The Signaller has a superb get out clause. They pretty much always ask "are you ok to continue Driver ?" The second you say "yes" its all recorded and logged. The full responsibility is then yours.

If you are placing a breach of contract above safety then you are making a compromise and are culpable for any action you then make.

Here is a 'fictional' example of how broken the railway is in regard to rules and safety.

2 units need to be moved. One is on the running line (A) (through platform) the other is on a terminal platform. (B)

Traincrew Supervisor : Can you take unit B into the sidings and then come back for Unit A ?
Driver : I have no problem doing that, let me call the Signaller first.

Driver calls the Signaller

Driver : Can I leave this unit here and move unit B into the sidings ?
Signaller : Sorry Driver I can't authorise that.
Driver : No worries Signaller, I'll speak with the TCS

Driver then speaks to the TCS and states he cannot move the unit concerned as he has no authority.

TCS : Driver, are you refusing ? Why are you being so akward, you are allowed to leave a unit on that platform
Driver : Signaller said no and no you cannot leave a unit on the running line
TCS : yes you are Driver, this platform has a local instruction, we have it here in the office, other Drivers do it, why are you being difficult.

So the people in charge are giving the Driver instructions to leave the unit where is is not allowed, knowingly breaking the rules, lying/misunderstanding about the local instruction, giving the Driver grief about refusing to carry out the movement. FYI the Driver was reported to his DM. The situation here is awkward as the local instruction is not as well know as it should be. Some Drivers get convinced by the TCS to leave a unit on the running line. The TCS is not rules trained. Thankfully the Driver carried out the correct actions.

'fictional' example 2

Amended diagrams all day. Units arriving on the reversible platform. 20 minute turnaround. Last trip you are relieved for PNB. Driver A is diagrammed their PNB, Driver B (already on their PNB) is diagrammed to relieve at departure time.

Driver A arrives, TCs the train, no relief Driver. Waits relief.
Relief Driver turns up as booked and relieves Driver A.
Driver A phones the TCS and states he is running 20 minutes late due to no relief. Next working needs to be cape or delayed.

TCS : Driver why did you remain on the platform and not take your PNB.
Driver : No relief
TCS : Doesn't matter, you should have left the train on the platform, your due out on time.
Driver : Not allowed to leave the unit on a running line.
TCS : Yes you are, Its booked and has been running like that all day.
Driver : No your not.
TCS : Platform X is allowed to have trains left, its been like that for years, we have a local instruction.
Driver : Sorry but that is incorrect you need to check your local instructions.
TCS : Driver are you refusing ?
Driver : Yes.

Driver got reported. DM stated that the Driver failed to carry out a Management instruction and will be disciplined. The Driver was informed by the DM that the Manager may have other information at hand and knows better so the Driver must carry out the instruction regardless. If the Manager is then found to be wrong then that is a separate issue. This move was booked by Diagrams/Planning. So they have booked a train movement directly against the rulebook :/

So knowing an instruction is wrong the Driver is still told to carry it out because they were instructed by Management and can face disciplinary if they refused. However, knowingly carrying out an unsafe action is itself a disciplinary offence and a quite serious one. That threat of action being taken against you; 'breach of contract' etc. leads to a compromise in safety.

Those are of the lower end of the spectrum examples. Others have been quite serious.

Both Unions need to address things like this. Again, they rather deal with the disciplinary than deal with the root cause of why examples like this happen quite regularly.
 

Class43

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There’s also an extent that we need to grow a pair of balls ourselves. Keeping your cool and knowing the rights and wrongs and not losing our patience as that’s when they’ve won..

Taking managers initials or name, telling them that you are going to raise a safety incident report or near miss because they are requesting a dangerous movement, or ask to speak to their supervisor and things change quickly.
 

ComUtoR

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Which is what happened. The Driver refused but then was told by a more senior Manager that by refusing they were in the wrong :/

But you are right. We are the last line of defence and need to be competent in our knowledge and confident enough to challenge when required. Your also right about taking names. "So you are giving me authority ? Can I have your name please, for my records" does seem to work a treat.

I just wish the buck passing didn't have to happen.
 

HowardGWR

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Would not any instructions to drivers being always, but always, relayed / requested through the bobby, relieve the driver of this unwanted and unnecessary pressure? If all comms between signalman and Driver were taped, this would cover the driver from responsibility.
I'm an outsider, so found this discussion very interesting and would welcome the thoughts of you profs. I thought a driver should only move an engine when he was told to do so by a signalman. That's why they are called 'bobbys'.
 

randyrippley

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I'm DOO. How do I insist on a Guard ? How do I insist on platform staff where there is none ? How do I refuse to stop at a station when I don't know the DOO monitors are not functioning or plain useless ? Why are trains allowed to stop at stations where there are known issues where parts of the unit is not visible in the monitors ? Why are we allowed to stop at stations where there is insufficient light to dispatch due to the station lights failing or in one situation, where they were timed to go out before the last service ?

Why, after numerous reports of poor lighting, poor CCTV, Broken DOO monitors, are issues still not addressed ?

Stuff does not magically get addressed instantly. Quite often they are left in an unfit state or we are simply not told and find out upon discovery. You can literally have a set of DOO monitors out all day and no one told about them being broken but still get moaned at by the Signaller because its been reported numerous times.
What happens if you report all this to the Health & Safety Executive?
Any other industry and they would be there immediately.
 

ComUtoR

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Signaller/Driver communication is recorded.

Signallers have very limited interaction with Driver. Not all of our duties are driving either. Signallers aren't, I believe, traction trained. When we have faults etc. The default response from the Signaller is "have you spoken with your control / fitters"

Our role is quite varied and safety starts before you arrive for work. Safety compromise can be as simple as being asked to cut your PNB short.In another thread it has been discussed about dilution of knowledge. That dilution allows Management to instruct Drivers because they do not have the required knowledge. It's very easy to say 'all shunts at this station are controlled by the TCS' Do as instructed.

In regards to the OP. The Signaller would not be involved in the decisions made if the Guard has release incorrectly and then failed to report it. The decision to keep the Guard on the train after having an incident would be made by the TOC control.

Trying desperately to stay on topic. If the PUG has had limited training and been signed competent in a rush and quality overlooked to push them out quicker, then that small compromise in safety leads to incident. Post incident it is again being overlooked because there is little to no investigation. Taking the failure to report as an example. What if the PUG was a little hung over from the night before ? Because that cannot be investigated or the PUG med screened, that part of the investigation cannot take place. Look at the incident where a signal failure is not reported. Because that has been overlooked it could have led to a more serious incident. If the TOC allows these things to be overlooked because its a strike day then they are making a compromise and potentially serious breaches in procedures. Just look at what happened with Tranmere. The RAIB take breaches in procedures very seriously. Where a TOC is not investigating incidents or allowing them to go unreported it is in breach of its safety case.

The RMT/ASLEF are part of the problem. They have allowed a slip in standards to protect their members. Those grey areas allow wiggle room in a disciplinary. To then call out the TOC does seem like they are shooting themselves in the foot, as has already been highlighted. As I say, they would rather form a working party to discuss these issues than actually deal with them directly.
 

otomous

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Comutor and Bromley Boy have summed up the safety v compromise situation perfectly. All sounds depressingly familiar.
 

dctraindriver

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Why would doing something for safety reasons be a breach of contract ? However....

A pressure tactic used by management grades is to hang that sword over your head. "Are you refusing Driver.. ?" is a phrase that is well used to pressure a Driver into moving a unit or carrying out an action that breaches procedure/safety; especially where there are grey areas.

It should never be a case of a Driver needing to refuse an action. They should never be asked in the first place. The comment by Bahnause is what should be happening. The service should cease at the moment of incident. That pressure to continue hangs over all of us. The Signaller has a superb get out clause. They pretty much always ask "are you ok to continue Driver ?" The second you say "yes" its all recorded and logged. The full responsibility is then yours.

If you are placing a breach of contract above safety then you are making a compromise and are culpable for any action you then make.

Here is a 'fictional' example of how broken the railway is in regard to rules and safety.

2 units need to be moved. One is on the running line (A) (through platform) the other is on a terminal platform. (B)

Traincrew Supervisor : Can you take unit B into the sidings and then come back for Unit A ?
Driver : I have no problem doing that, let me call the Signaller first.

Driver calls the Signaller

Driver : Can I leave this unit here and move unit B into the sidings ?
Signaller : Sorry Driver I can't authorise that.
Driver : No worries Signaller, I'll speak with the TCS

Driver then speaks to the TCS and states he cannot move the unit concerned as he has no authority.

TCS : Driver, are you refusing ? Why are you being so akward, you are allowed to leave a unit on that platform
Driver : Signaller said no and no you cannot leave a unit on the running line
TCS : yes you are Driver, this platform has a local instruction, we have it here in the office, other Drivers do it, why are you being difficult.

So the people in charge are giving the Driver instructions to leave the unit where is is not allowed, knowingly breaking the rules, lying/misunderstanding about the local instruction, giving the Driver grief about refusing to carry out the movement. FYI the Driver was reported to his DM. The situation here is awkward as the local instruction is not as well know as it should be. Some Drivers get convinced by the TCS to leave a unit on the running line. The TCS is not rules trained. Thankfully the Driver carried out the correct actions.

'fictional' example 2

Amended diagrams all day. Units arriving on the reversible platform. 20 minute turnaround. Last trip you are relieved for PNB. Driver A is diagrammed their PNB, Driver B (already on their PNB) is diagrammed to relieve at departure time.

Driver A arrives, TCs the train, no relief Driver. Waits relief.
Relief Driver turns up as booked and relieves Driver A.
Driver A phones the TCS and states he is running 20 minutes late due to no relief. Next working needs to be cape or delayed.

TCS : Driver why did you remain on the platform and not take your PNB.
Driver : No relief
TCS : Doesn't matter, you should have left the train on the platform, your due out on time.
Driver : Not allowed to leave the unit on a running line.
TCS : Yes you are, Its booked and has been running like that all day.
Driver : No your not.
TCS : Platform X is allowed to have trains left, its been like that for years, we have a local instruction.
Driver : Sorry but that is incorrect you need to check your local instructions.
TCS : Driver are you refusing ?
Driver : Yes.

Driver got reported. DM stated that the Driver failed to carry out a Management instruction and will be disciplined. The Driver was informed by the DM that the Manager may have other information at hand and knows better so the Driver must carry out the instruction regardless. If the Manager is then found to be wrong then that is a separate issue. This move was booked by Diagrams/Planning. So they have booked a train movement directly against the rulebook :/

So knowing an instruction is wrong the Driver is still told to carry it out because they were instructed by Management and can face disciplinary if they refused. However, knowingly carrying out an unsafe action is itself a disciplinary offence and a quite serious one. That threat of action being taken against you; 'breach of contract' etc. leads to a compromise in safety.

Those are of the lower end of the spectrum examples. Others have been quite serious.

Both Unions need to address things like this. Again, they rather deal with the disciplinary than deal with the root cause of why examples like this happen quite regularly.
Sobering reading, and stuff like this happens when utterly knackered, when it’s all going wrong. Thanks for sharing.
 

Bletchleyite

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It would strike me that this kind of thing would be solved with a proper IT system recording "local instructions" and accessible to all operational staff without exception. Then it can easily be proven whether there is a "local instruction" or not, and made clear that if the instruction is not in the system it does not exist (ensuring that only those authorised to give such instructions can do so).
 

Moonshot

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It would strike me that this kind of thing would be solved with a proper IT system recording "local instructions" and accessible to all operational staff without exception. Then it can easily be proven whether there is a "local instruction" or not, and made clear that if the instruction is not in the system it does not exist (ensuring that only those authorised to give such instructions can do so).
There is a lot of merit in this......local instructions are often buried in a sectional appendix which is actualy available on line anyway. Having tablet PCs in driving cabs would on paper ( parden the pun ) seem a rational idea, though of course protocols for usgae would still have to be followed.
 

Moonshot

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They are entitled to apply for a passport to do so, but would likely be rejected by the DfT on inadequate funding and lack of prior public service operating experience.
Well they are certainly funded to the extent of membership fees.......and I would point out that all members are frontline staff with thousands of years experience between them.
 

twpsaesneg

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I've been in the industry for 15+ years... If drivers / guards or indeed anyone else have a genuine safety concern that is not being taken seriously by line management I'd suggest using CIRAS.

http://www.ciras.org.uk/

I've used it and it works well.

There's a lot of people in the industry (and I've worked on both the ops side and infrastructure) that like having a good moan but won't actually stand up and raise issues using the correct channels. They are there and they do work. In my experience.
 

BestWestern

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Which is what happened. The Driver refused but then was told by a more senior Manager that by refusing they were in the wrong :/

But you are right. We are the last line of defence and need to be competent in our knowledge and confident enough to challenge when required. Your also right about taking names. "So you are giving me authority ? Can I have your name please, for my records" does seem to work a treat.

I just wish the buck passing didn't have to happen.
It should always be remembered, of course, that it is your job and your licence, not theirs, and your right to refuse something you genuinely believe to be unsafe. There is always the reply "I can only suggest that you do it", which can result in an interesting response if the person making the demands is not actually qualified to do it themselves.
 

BestWestern

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Would not any instructions to drivers being always, but always, relayed / requested through the bobby, relieve the driver of this unwanted and unnecessary pressure? If all comms between signalman and Driver were taped, this would cover the driver from responsibility.
I'm an outsider, so found this discussion very interesting and would welcome the thoughts of you profs. I thought a driver should only move an engine when he was told to do so by a signalman. That's why they are called 'bobbys'.
Signalmen used to be policeman I believe, in the early days, hence 'Bobby'. Relaying all comms via the Signaller would be rather impractical, and would probably require a callcentre to be installed in most signalboxes!
 

otomous

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Even better ....clearly the industry is way behind on maximising operational efficiency through modern technology
Probably because successive governments of all parties refused to fund the industry properly when it was in state hands, then created a private franchising system that discourages such long term investment, and indeed now encourages cost cutting even at the risk of destroying the service.
 

otomous

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I've been in the industry for 15+ years... If drivers / guards or indeed anyone else have a genuine safety concern that is not being taken seriously by line management I'd suggest using CIRAS.

http://www.ciras.org.uk/

I've used it and it works well.

There's a lot of people in the industry (and I've worked on both the ops side and infrastructure) that like having a good moan but won't actually stand up and raise issues using the correct channels. They are there and they do work. In my experience.
If someone repeatedly questions the quality of DOO monitors then contacts CIRAS they will not feel confident that they are anonymous due to circumstantial association. And there are essentially “less safe” principles without which the modern railway would probably fall apart - bad rostering, diagrams that are incidents waiting to happen, DOO, destaffed stations (even busy ones) - that CIRAS has little chance of doing anything about.
 

43096

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Dear Mick,

A lot of commuters, including myself, want to see the guard retained on all services. It gives us a sense of security in the event that something goes amiss, and they are the face of the TOC to the travelling public. However what I can't quite understand is firstly the tone of your press releases (fake guards etc.), and the lack of professionalism in dealing with the ORR, if that indeed is the real letter you sent. We are not nine year olds- for "fake guards", perhaps you could substitute the more grown up language of "people acting up in the role of guard that we believe not to be suitably trained". The last paragraph of your letter to Ian Prosser is quite beyond belief. How can you expect anyone to take you seriously? If my own trade union behaved like this I would be less than impressed. As a non rail employee, I can't presume to speak for anyone who works in the industry, but I think they deserve better than this.


A. Commuter.
And if I were Ian Prosser I would be tempted to write back with something like:
“Dear Mick,

**** off until you publicly retract your last paragraph.”
 

twpsaesneg

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If someone repeatedly questions the quality of DOO monitors then contacts CIRAS they will not feel confident that they are anonymous due to circumstantial association. And there are essentially “less safe” principles without which the modern railway would probably fall apart - bad rostering, diagrams that are incidents waiting to happen, DOO, destaffed stations (even busy ones) - that CIRAS has little chance of doing anything about.
Funnily enough, CIRAS have thought of the anonymity issue, and one of the questions I was repeatedly asked was "can I be identified". If the DOO monitor quality is so bad, then surely more than one driver will be complaining?
Also, if someone can provide evidence of the "safety issues" caused behind the other gripes - i.e. specific examples - then CIRAS can and do raise them, there have been examples of this kind of thing in past newsletters.
The alternative is to whine and moan and claim everything is a management conspiracy and that it's all for profit for the fat cat shareholders.
@313103 - the quarterly mag is now on their website, in fact I think it's monthly now.
 
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Moonshot

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Probably because successive governments of all parties refused to fund the industry properly when it was in state hands, then created a private franchising system that discourages such long term investment, and indeed now encourages cost cutting even at the risk of destroying the service.
So surely then the answer is to privatise Network Rail and at the same time create longer term franchises which encourage the private sector to invest their own capital??
 

emil

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We have already had that. It was disastrously called Railtrack.
Longer term franchises already exist and they haven't worked either.
Conspiracy for you. The Petrochemical industry has lobbied to reduce the number of people travelling by rail.
Certainly numbers have reduced and rail strikes put the travelling public off and back onto the road network.
 

ComUtoR

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On your TOC. Not all TOCs...
Do I really need that caveat on every single post ? Obviously I'm talking about my TOC. However, it is something that is endemic across the entire industry and in all departments.

Take a deep look at various incidents etc and you can see where the railway drags its heels in terms of safety and will generally only act when forced to.

As CIRAS has been mentioned let me carve that turkey. CIRAS is good at reporting and they do contact all parties and actively encourage that internal procedures are followed before contacting them. I like CIRAS as it provides an insight to the continual shortcomings of the TOCS. The purpose of CIRAS is for people to report the shortcomings and that it is because things repeatedly have not been done.

CIRAS is also part of the problem. They are great at dealing with single point issues. Singular issues are raised directly and the TOCS need to reply and state what action, if any, was or will be taken. What is clear is that one, there was a failing and two, the root causes are still not being dealt with. Take an example where you see things like Gates not being locked or Walking routes not being suitable. Those singular issues are usually resolved but the issues surrounding procedures and regular safety walks etc are not addresses.

RAIB, RSSB, CIRAS, HSE, ABC, 123 etc. Are all very insular and deal with issues very well but they are too targeted and too specific in their remit. The RAIB are notorious in making 'recommendations' I see people on this forum quite surprised that the TOCs then never have to change anything because they are just 'recommendations' RAIB also highlights where they have previously made recommendations but they were never acted upon. This again, serves to prove my point. Its very easy to make a recommendation rather than force the TOC to change their procedures or mandate against incidents re-occurring.

I'm not expecting 100% safety and neither am I expecting a 100% hard line but there has to be an admission that we are making a degree of compromise and allowing for flexibility in the rules and procedures that have already been laid out.
 

Moonshot

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Do I really need that caveat on every single post ? Obviously I'm talking about my TOC. However, it is something that is endemic across the entire industry and in all departments.

Take a deep look at various incidents etc and you can see where the railway drags its heels in terms of safety and will generally only act when forced to.

As CIRAS has been mentioned let me carve that turkey. CIRAS is good at reporting and they do contact all parties and actively encourage that internal procedures are followed before contacting them. I like CIRAS as it provides an insight to the continual shortcomings of the TOCS. The purpose of CIRAS is for people to report the shortcomings and that it is because things repeatedly have not been done.

CIRAS is also part of the problem. They are great at dealing with single point issues. Singular issues are raised directly and the TOCS need to reply and state what action, if any, was or will be taken. What is clear is that one, there was a failing and two, the root causes are still not being dealt with. Take an example where you see things like Gates not being locked or Walking routes not being suitable. Those singular issues are usually resolved but the issues surrounding procedures and regular safety walks etc are not addresses.

RAIB, RSSB, CIRAS, HSE, ABC, 123 etc. Are all very insular and deal with issues very well but they are too targeted and too specific in their remit. The RAIB are notorious in making 'recommendations' I see people on this forum quite surprised that the TOCs then never have to change anything because they are just 'recommendations' RAIB also highlights where they have previously made recommendations but they were never acted upon. This again, serves to prove my point. Its very easy to make a recommendation rather than force the TOC to change their procedures or mandate against incidents re-occurring.

I'm not expecting 100% safety and nor expecting a 100% hard line but there has to be an admission that we are making a degree of compromise and allowing for flexibility in the rules and procedures that have already been laid out.
Of course all your posts on this thread ( which are very good ) are made against the background of UK rail being the safest in the world nowadays.
 

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