Union expresses safety fears on railway line maintenance

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RAIL union RMT says staffing cuts are affecting maintenance of the East Coast main line track, which passes through Doncaster.

They have released a shocking new picture which shows six inches of rail crumbled away to nothing, leaving a potentially lethal gap in the track on the InterCity East Coast Mainline at Hambleton South Junction near Selby, where running speeds are 125mph.

The picture, taken on February 1, follows the publication by RMT of a similar damning photo taken at Colton Junction on the ECML just a few miles away in December last year.

RMT believes that, due to renewals and staffing cuts, an initial crack had crumbled away to a six-inch gap leaving passengers and staff at risk of a potentially lethal incident.

A train could have derailed and collided with an oncoming service, said a spokesman.

“Fortunately, the gap was spotted by on-track teams and the section of track has since been replaced,” said the spokesman. “But it raises serious questions about the impact of wear and tear on rail infrastructure, with high-speed trains running on tracks that should have been renewed, in a climate of cuts and sub-contracting.

“RMT understands there is massive pressure to keep the ECML running, from the Government and the Department of Transport as they look to re-privatise the service.”

A Network Rail spokesperson said: “A dip in our track was identified and spotted at Hambleton on January 17. Following our well-tried and tested standard industry procedure to remedy such dips, we scheduled an intervention to repair this dip on the Saturday night of February 2.

“Unfortunately, the track deteriorated more quickly than is to be expected and, on discovering the broken rail, all traffic was stopped immediately while a repair was carried out.”