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Do Antipodeans do it better?

G’day Mr Higgins and welcome to the world of Network Rail.

Noticing that you have a vast global experience in civil engineering, can we ask you to put near the top of your safety to-do list a long-standing problem that has beset your new workforce for many years. Unfortunately your predecessors have made no effort to address it.

The majority of Network Rail employees work on or about the track and need to move around at all hours of the night and day, in all weathers. For decades they have stumbled their way along the lineside - slipping, sliding and tripping - as the walkway that once was there has disappeared. This has led to the belief that Network Rail isn’t that bothered about on-track workers’ safety, even if the fine words of managers suggest otherwise.

A typical access point, leading to a non-existent cess, next to a limited clearance bridge on a reverse curve with restricted sighting. Just another day on the railway.

A cess - supposedly usable as a walkway - runs alongside the tracks and Rimini packs usually state that it should be used as the method of getting from access point to site of work. It is also quoted as a safe place to stand when trains are passing. So this is what you would expect your staff to use, for their safety and your company’s reputation.

But there is a big problem. On well over 90% of your infrastructure, there is no walkway/cess - none at all, and there hasn’t been for many years. Where it should be is an overgrown, ballast-filled, scrap-infested, misaligned cable run which is not fit for purpose when it comes to access.

On well over 90% of your infrastructure, there is no walkway/cess - none at all, and there hasn’t been for many years.

Where then are your staff? They are on the track, in the four-foot - left with no option but to break your rules, just to move around the railway to do the work that you require of them.

Please just take a day or two. Pinpoint a few access points and go look for yourself. Ask how you would move from the gate to the next piece of trackside equipment without putting yourself into a position of danger.

You know how to get around Brizvegas. Network Rail’s infrastructure is nothing like that so give it a burl, have a walkabout through the fields of Jumbucks, past the old dunny to the fence. Then have a good look at what your cobbers have to put up with. Make their day and give them a ripper safe walkway to make their lives bonzer.

Story added 1st December 2010

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