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12 July 2002

Potters Bar inquiry: Bring Rail Bosses To Justice

RAIL WORKERS and passengers will be horrified by the findings of the inquiry into the Potters Bar rail crash, which killed seven people in May.

The inquiry found that private contractors had failed to fully tighten one-fifth of the nuts holding sets of points together along the stretch of track in Hertfordshire where the accident occurred.

This was not an "isolated incident" as the private bosses claimed. The profit-obsessed contracting system has around 2,000 registered rail infrastructure companies with 84,000 registered temporary workers while permanent workers, track staff who knew their own local lines, have been halved to about 15,000.

As rail union RMT general secretary Bob Crow says: "No-one knows who's working where on the railway network."

A rail engineer told The Socialist after Potters Bar: "The industry isn't run for the good of the passengers or to provide a service, it's just there to make profits. If it costs money to do anything then it just gets ignored."

Private rail operators have ruined the traditional safety culture on the track. Cost-cutting bosses employ fewer and less well-trained staff who then work with little or no supervision.

The rail unions say the maintenance company Jarvis should be prosecuted for failing to maintain the railways. They have put workers under intolerable pressure and passengers at more and more risk.

In the same week as the inquiry Jarvis awarded massive bonuses and salary rises to its directors. Its chief executive Paris Moayedi had a 66% salary rise, boosting his pay from 359,000 to 595,000.

Jarvis's chief operating officer Kevin Hyde, responsible for the day-to-day running of its engineering division, got a 100,000 bonus, pushing his pay up 71% to 352,000.

Jarvis increased profits by 85% last year. The profits of the privatised companies since privatisation amount to 7.5 billion. But more than that - 10 billion - has come from public subsidies to the railways!

We are paying a fortune for private firms whose neglect has created Europe's worst record on safety. These firms award huge dividends and fat-cat salaries to executives while forcing workers' pay levels down.

We say: