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The RMT has demanded an urgent Government investigation into evidence obtained by respected trade magazine RAIL that hundreds of accidents have not been reported, sparking union fears that a culture of non-recording of incidents is rife at Network Rail and is directly linked to the senior management bonus culture. The evidence was obtained by RAIL in an in-depth interview with the ORR's Director of Railway Safety Ian Prosser.

"Our passenger railway is very safe - the best it’s ever been", said RAIL's Managing Editor Nigel Harris in Issue 649 of the magazine. "But trackworker safety is equally important."

"ORR Director of Railway Safety Ian Prosser is to be commended for this compelling evidence suggesting that Network Rail may be under-reporting up to 500 RIDDOR accidents a year. The figures do not fit internationally accepted benchmarks. Three deaths are tragedy enough - the idea that hundreds of accidents may be slipping beneath NR’s radar is unacceptable. We must get to the bottom of this."

...the idea that hundreds of accidents may be slipping beneath NR’s radar is unacceptable.

Harris went on, "NR safety plays an important part in the criteria on which half dozen executives have just been paid £2.4m in bonuses - including a 100% of salary bonus to outgoing CEO Iain Coucher, who received £1.4m. If Prosser’s compelling suggestion that up to 500 accidents a year causing those involved to need three days off work are going unreported, then there’s an equally compelling case for those bonuses to be clawed back in their entirety. Safety is too important to be subject to anything other than diligent and accurate reporting."

Responding to the claim, RMT General Secretary Bob Crow added "We have written today to Transport Secretary Phillip Hammond demanding an urgent investigation into the under-reporting of serious accidents at Network Rail. Not only is it a scandal that Network Rail executives pocketed £2.4 million in bonuses in the same year that three workers died on the tracks but there is now overwhelming evidence that safety data is being rigged to hit performance targets. That requires a full and open investigation."

"With cuts to safety critical jobs and maintenance and renewals schedules set to gather pace as the ConDem Government cuts bite, the risks to both staff and passengers on the rail network will escalate dramatically. Ian Prosser deserves credit for bringing the under-reporting of key data into the public domain and we are calling for urgent Government action."

Story added 28th July 2010

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