RMT calls for public inquiry into Network Rail after inquest verdict

by - 4th November 2011, 16.27 BST

The RMT has called for a public inquiry into the management and operations of Network Rail after an inquest ruled the Grayrigg train crash was caused by badly maintained points.

Margaret Masson, 84, died after a Virgin train derailed on the West coast mainline in Cumbria in February 2007.

RMT also says that the failures of the rail regulator, ORR, to adequately monitor and check on the £8 billion up grade on the West Coast Main Line, and continued failures to enforce safe systems to allow proper maintenance of the high speed track, was risking further derailments and their performance also needed examination.

General secretary Bob Crow pointed to the evidence given at the Coroners Court that there had been a fundamental disagreement between senior NR officers about their ability to maintain the infrastructure on the WCML when the line speed was allowed to increase to facilitate Virgins Pendolino trains.

Network Rail’s own report in to the derailment at Grayrigg in February 2007 found that ‘’…..no structured assessment was undertaken to establish whether sufficient resources existed’’ and that ‘’…..management systems employed…were not sufficiently robust..’’

Bob Crow said: “It is now crystal clear that too many political careers and financial incentives for senior management depended on meeting deadlines regardless of safety considerations.

“Pressure for faster and more frequent trains, and the financial penalties for Network Rail and its Executives pay of any delays, led to unacceptable pressure on staff. Network Rail, with the full knowledge of the ORR, are still failing to provide adequate time and staff to complete proper patrols and maintenance required on the West Coast route.

“There remain systemic problems which have failed to be addressed since this derailment. We cannot wait for another derailment and another inquest to deal with these issues and now need an urgent public inquiry.”