Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/412/4683

From The Socialist newspaper, 20 October 2005

Courts fail to tackle rail dangers

PRIVATISATION OF public transport has consistently put profits before safety and the courts say they can do very little about it. The Crown Prosecution Service now says there's no "realistic prospect of conviction" of privatised rail company executives on manslaughter charges over the Potters Bar disaster in May 2002.

The crash killed seven people after a train from Kings Cross derailed due to a defective set of points. Investigators found that four nuts meant to hold together key components of the points had gone missing. This caused the points to change direction as the train thundered over at 100 mph.

Jarvis, the notorious privateer, cut corners to save cash and completely failed in its duty to maintain the track. They accepted liability last year but as with the Hatfield crash, the executives will face no consequences.

A few weeks ago, the executives of Jarvis' fellow privateers Balfour Beatty escaped real penalties for their involvement in the Hatfield rail crash in 2000. They too failed to repair cracked rails that led to a fatal derailment. Five Balfour Beatty executives walked free when corporate manslaughter charges failed.

A few weeks later they were fined 10 million which was made meaningless when the firm was offered juicy privatisation contracts in the same week!

If the courts cannot or will not take action against the greedy rail fat cats, rail workers certainly can do as our next story, below, shows.


London Underground......

We struck for safety - and won

WORKERS ON London Underground's Northern Line took strike action on 12 October to protect both workers' and passengers' safety. They succeeded in making management put right a dangerous fault in emergency stopping equipment. A Northern Line driver explains why they struck for safety.

NORTHERN LINE signals are fitted with train stops that are in the 'up' position when the signal is at danger (red). This works in conjunction with a trip cock at the front of the train. When this is operated, safety brakes are applied.

On five occasions in the past six weeks, a trip cock has only partially applied and then reset itself when travelling at low speed. After the fourth occurrence the unions, RMT and ASLEF, demanded that trains be double-staffed and fixed train stops situated at two points on the line in order to trip all trains to prove the trip cocks were working.

This was done but many drivers felt the whole fleet should be withdrawn until this serious defect was rectified.

They did not believe management's assurance that this defect wouldn't happen again if they changed the reset cord's diameter and carried out other cosmetic changes to the trip-cock cabinet. They were also angry at the slow response to the safety issue.

These drivers made a stand and refused to drive trains. Management tried to intimidate them but they stood their ground. Then when a further instance occurred to a train with a modified reset cord, all drivers said "enough is enough".

Management tried to nip any further action in the bud by sending four drivers home without pay. Of course this inflamed the situation and the protest spread.

Next morning, 13 October, nothing moved. The drivers' action was vindicated when, after a meeting with the unions, London Underground (LU) issued a Regulatory Notice taking out the Northern Line fleet until all trip cocks had been modified. These modifications mean that if a train is part tripped and then reset the brakes will still come on.

When the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) contract started in 1997, the rolling stock maintenance was privatised and handed over to Alstom. After several failures, Alstom's maintenance regime was investigated and found to be totally inadequate.

Whilst maintenance is done by Alstom, the contract is managed by Tubelines. With the Regulatory Notice, London Underground put in their own engineers to oversee maintenance. There is strong speculation that Alstom will be stripped of their contract.

This shambles shows how disastrous tube privatisation has been. A BBC poll showed 93% of Londoners want tube privatisation reversed.

New Labour hailed the privatisation of Northern Line depots through PFI as a resounding success and the way forward for the Underground and the public sector. Flushed with success, Richard Bowker, the architect of this PFI, became the Strategic Rail Authority's director, with catastrophic results.

The Northern Line PFI has unravelled. Another contractor, Metronet plans to fragment the industry further by handing depots to Bombardier. The fleet maintenance workers are ready to resist this outsourcing. The RMT should seize the moment and bring this dispute forward.

At the RMT's last Regional Committee, fleet maintenance shop stewards reported a shocking catalogue of corner-cutting since privatisation. All these companies should be investigated and exposed, then booted off the underground.

The unions gave the go-ahead for trains to be brought back by Sunday night (16 October). Many drivers were very upset that the fixed train stops put in to test trains had been removed.

Morden depot drivers kept on refusing to drive trains until these were reinstated. Although drivers in other depots agreed with us, the union safety reps did their utmost to back up LU management on this issue, which left a sour taste.

But we all see this dispute's outcome as a victory.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 20 October 2005:

Take over the drug companies

Health service... condition critical!

Government climbs down but questions still remain

Courts fail to tackle rail dangers

Come to Socialism 2005 - defend democratic rights

Students are searching for a socialist alternative

Sleepwalking to segregation?

Poorest areas of towns and villages suffer most

Iraq: Women's rights pushed back

Strong solidarity action against Connex union-busting

Challenging 'partnership'

London bus workers reject pay offer


 

Home   |   The Socialist 20 October 2005   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  




Related links:

Rail:

triangleBrutal rail privateer Abellio takes over Midlands rail services

triangleNationalise rail now

triangleThe Socialist inbox

triangleStrike wave continues

triangleStrikers picket the South Western Railway network

London underground:

triangleJustice for Tube cleaners demo

triangleConference opens debate on Labour and pledges to fight anti-union laws

triangleTube strike at London Bridge over unfair dismissal

triangleWalkout on three rail networks against driver-only operated trains

London:

triangleSix months on - still no justice for Grenfell

triangleSouth London health bosses' cover-up

triangleNewham anti-academies strikes

Privatisation:

triangleBrexit deal no solution to Tory rifts

triangleSave our NHS

PFI:

trianglePFI privateers dodge tax

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns

16/12/17

Haringey

Blairite council 'all ears' to rich property developers

16/12/17

North West

Arriva bus drivers' action wins pay rise

14/12/17

Waltham Forest

Stop the rotten redevelopment plan, demand residents

13/12/17

London

Six months on - still no justice for Grenfell

13/12/17

Fracking

Movement growing against fracking giant Ineos

13/12/17

Devon

Totnes MP uses coffin controversy to distract from brutal NHS cuts

13/12/17

Miners

Tory plan to hold dinner at coal mining museum defeated

13/12/17

Bradford

Bradford campaign to save children's services launched

13/12/17

South London

South London health bosses' cover-up

13/12/17

Blacklisting

Unite day of action against blacklisting

13/12/17

Brighton

Brighton victory

13/12/17

Newham

Newham anti-academies strikes

13/12/17

Tamil Solidarity

Tamil Solidarity and Refugee Rights activists meeting

12/12/17

Woolwich

Support the Crossrail Woolwich walkout

7/12/17

Blacklisting

Unite protest against blacklisting

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle16 Dec Blairite council 'all ears' to rich property developers

triangle16 Dec Arriva bus drivers' action wins pay rise

triangle14 Dec Stop the rotten redevelopment plan, demand residents

triangle13 Dec Six months on - still no justice for Grenfell

triangle13 Dec Movement growing against fracking giant Ineos

triangle13 Dec Totnes MP uses coffin controversy to distract from brutal NHS cuts

triangle13 Dec Trump's incendiary Jerusalem statement reignites Israeli-Palestinian...

More ...

triangle18 Dec Leeds Socialist Party: Religion and Socialism

triangle19 Dec Bristol North Socialist Party: Christmas social

triangle21 Dec Wakefield Socialist Party: Socialists and the National Question

triangle6 Jan Socialist Party national women's meeting

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

Archive

Archives:

December 2017

November 2017

October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999

Legal

SP RSS feed RSS

Platform setting: = No platform choice

V2