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Surveying the cess

How refreshing to see the top people in Network Rail starting to take an interest in 'the cess'. According to their latest Safety Brief, it's the place to walk!

A survey amongst staff at one depot found that -

  • 13% thought it was a mis-spelling and should have read 'mess'

  • 7% had no idea what the questioner was on about

  • 39% said they had seen the word in the Rule Book

  • 35% thought it was a good idea when the concept was explained to them

  • 5% (mostly from production) thought it was a silly idea as there would be nowhere to put OLE masts, waste ballast, cables and scrap

  • 1% (an old-timer sat at the back of the room) started to mutter about 'the good old days' when the cess was a reality - a place to walk, a place to stand clear when trains passed, a place that gave good access along the line for barrow-loads of heavy equipment, a place of safety. It was felt that the sooner the old duffer was consigned to the old folks' home the better, as his brain was surely going!

It's now reported that archaeologists from York and Oxford Universities are going to start a dig in an effort to find evidence of the existence of cesses in bygone times. Channel Four's 'Time Team' are reportedly taking a great interest and are keen to film if anything comes to light.

A high-powered delegation will soon set off to the Continent to view the situation over there, as reports have been received that the cess still exists in several countries across the Channel. It's felt that a European quota and Brussels directive might be needed to solve the problem. However a cess subidy is likely to be at a premium and no doubt the French will get in first.
It's felt that a European quota and Brussels directive might be needed to solve the problem.

All this aside, if Network Rail is serious about safe cesses, now is the time to talk to the people with a vested interest - the trade unions, the staff safety reps and the Railway Inspectorate.

To have a point of access to the railway and no cess leading from it is a farce, so let's start from that point - in a 12 month period, all points of access should, as a minimum, have a cess in both directions to the nearest piece of equipment. These are places staff will regularly go to carry out work.All renewals schemes must have a cess built into the contract together with proper maintenance. An ongoing priority programme must be established and kept to.

In less than five years the industry could have what the Rule Book says it already has - a safe cess!

Story added 1st December 2004

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