Safety Priorities

A somewhat regular feature round these parts is the railways and the general ineptitude of all involved. However of all the idiots found on the railways I reserve a special hatred of Bob Crow, a man who richly deserves his place in the Wicker Man.  My problem is not that he only cares about his members to the detriment of everyone else, that is after all his job as a union leader, no my problem is that he doesn’t even care about the safety of his members. I hope this example illustrates why;

This circular recently came round from Network Rail, one of their regular safety advisories telling everyone who ever works on the railway what the latest dangers/accidents/f*cks up are. Normally these are fairly useful but not too shocking (though occasionally they are just outright hilarious, last year we were all officially warned about adders. Snakes on a train anyone?).

This one though shocked the hell out of me, the lookout warning system was so badly designed that a low charge battery would fail the self test but leave the display frozen saying “Status OK”. Given anything on the railways has to go through horrifically expensive and exceptionally drawn out type approval lasting months or often years (hence why it all costs an utter fortune and there is never any choice in what to buy) they really should have caught this. Particularly as the Hun who make it specifically mention hot swapping batteries as a feature. On top of all this the unit was prohibited from all rail operation for many years after a string of dodgy accidents, hell just last year a warning was issued about it’s very counter-intuitive control system. All in all it is not a good unit, it’s hard to use and clearly not properly tested. Frankly it’s dangerous, which is a shame as conceptually it’s a damned good idea, certainly it’s better than blokes with flags shouting and blowing whistles, which is the current NR system for much of the country.

So has anybody from the RMT said anything about this threat to their members? Demanded proper type testing? Perhaps attacked management for sending them out with unsafe equipment? Decried privatisation forcing cost-cutting on safety? Of course not, not even in the specialist press has anyone heard a peep about this. If Bob actually gave a damn about his members safety he might have mentioned it, if nothing else it could be used to support his argument that Network Rail’s modernisation plan rests on untested and possibly dangerous technology, but he clearly doesn’t.  He’d much rather spend time shouting about the evils of rail franchises than actually working to keep his members safe, truly the Wicker Man is too good for him.


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