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Delude Retreat Indemnify Prevaricate Squander

Serial trouble-causer Graeme Bickerdike (or 'that b***** f****** c***' as he is known within RSSB) has been highlighting the challenges of real life on the line for over a decade.

He produced the much-respected SafetyNet videos and TSSG track safety website before leading work on the COSS and PTS Handbooks which unpicked the Rule Book's intricate knitting. He even helped to develop a pocket Pee Wee system. These efforts lead to him receiving the IRSE's Wing Award for Safety in 2007.

He continues to campaign passionately for practical engagement with on-track challenges, rather than more red tape and trivia which tie arms behind backs.
Recent outbursts
Now you see it
April 2016
Track safety performance improvements involve the delivery of incremental gains, so why is the yellow front-end - which has served us well for years - disappearing into the fog.
Remembering Jungle Ron
October 2014
Trackworkers lost a friend last month, even if they don't know it, when Ron Dunnable - an exemplary railwayman and safety campaigner - passed away.
Reinventing the wheel?
December 2013
Video briefings are back on the industry's agenda but will it be brave enough to make them honest and engaging with their intended audience?
A catastrophic collapse
November 2013
A failure of the safety management system claimed Scott Dobson's life in December last year, but missing the key issue will allow a repetition.
There's an app for that
October 2013
As New Sentinel arrives with safety improvements, RSSB finally kicks its Amendments Module into touch, ten years after it first polluted the Rule Book.
Practice makes perfect
September 2013
How Rimini - despite being fundamentally sound - came within two seconds of having fatal consequences for a COSS and his colleague.
Reap what you sow
August 2013
It's official: Network Rail now has too few staff to fulfil its inspection and maintenance obligations, and the consequences are already been felt.
Pantomime games
July 2013
Yes, we live in a superficial society, but must the great and the good really devalue workforce safety equipment in order to fully embrace it?
Getting under the skin
June 2013
Could better safeguards have saved a distracted PICOP from causing an irregularity with fatal potential? Not according to RAIB's visionaries.
A charmed life
May 2013
Miraculously he survived to tell the tale, but the coming-together of a train and a trackworker will have repercussions long after his wounds have healed.
Blinded by the light
April 2013
RAIB can't see it but a level crossing near miss - caused by a momentary lapse - should have refocussed the industry's attention on real safety.
Eye off the ball
March 2013
A survey reveals the extent to which managers now view health and safety as an insurance policy against the compensation culture.
Big Brother is watching
February 2013
As New Sentinel threatens to further erode personal freedom, another cull of frontliners pushes maintenance towards the danger zone.
Back where we started?
January 2013
Could last month's death of a trackworker in Lincolnshire demonstrate that the jettisoning of Rimini was tragically premature?
Suffer in silence
December 2012
However cathartic it might be to vent your spleen about industry failings, sooner or later you need to catch the ear of someone with influence.
Conspiracy of silence
November 2012
When it comes to getting under the skin of accidents, RAIB inquiry reports continue to shine a bright light on its own shortcomings.
Definitely not superficial claptrap
October 2012
Research helps Network Rail develop 11 Lifesaving Rules that will forever protect front-liners against the threat posed by six high-risk areas.
Contrasting fortunes
September 2012
Whilst frontliners are scrutinised and held liable to sanction, wordmongers in the committee room can fail with impunity.
Sledgehammer, nutcracker
August 2012
Health and safety now demands that every mishap must bring with it a fresh onslaught of madness dreamt up by the ignorant.
Failure's price tag perversion
July 2012
Network Rail faces a £42 million fine next year for delays and cancellations, but was penalised just £½ million for two deaths and appalling injuries.
Are we being served?
June 2012
RSSB's approach to amendments has built anomalies into almost every live Rule Book module, creating a Carry On farce from our safety-critical bible.
On the right track?
May 2012
When two COSSs had near misses in a matter of minutes, were they exclusively culpable or did the system of rules and regulations let them down?
Danger aspect
April 2012
Personal responsibility has always been the cornerstone of on-track safety, so why is the signaller now shouldering more of the burden?
Man or machine
March 2012
Magic machines are increasingly making their presence felt on the railway so where does that leave the aged-old patrolman?
Great expectations
February 2012
Technology is developing at break-neck speed, straining HS2's business case. So why is workforce safety still waiting for the wheel's invention?
Polls apart
January 2012
The latest attempt to properly communicate track safety rules reflects the widening disconnect between top and bottom of the industry.
The dismantling plan
December 2011
The government's latest initiative targets red tape but are its scissors aiming too high as far as the railway is concerned?
All that glitters
November 2011
As Initial Industry Plans are published for Control Period 5, could a dose of austerity be just what the railway needs after years of plenty?
Not a laughing matter
October 2011
If the Hazard Directory isn't up-to-date and freely accessible, how can planners identify the risks that potentially threaten trackworkers' safety?
Equal opportunities?
September 2011
We don't discriminate anymore...except against those who don't perform well in the classroom, whatever their practical talents.
Reasons to be fearful
August 2011
Inquiries are meant to reach absolute conclusions, particularly when they involve brake failures, runaways and the potential for fatalities.
Death defying
July 2011
If people must be struck by trains, let's give thanks when they survive. But must the industry respond like an ostrich or headless chicken?
And now for something completely different
June 2011
Sir Roy McNulty has taken pot-shots at the railway's sizeable failings but will his study deliver the culture change needed to slash costs?
Mission impossible
May 2011
How traffic levels, good sighting and distant engineering work conspired to place a track chargeman in the path of a train.
Full of good intentions
April 2011
When will the industry venture beyond its comfort zone to deliver the long-promised efficiency improvements waiting within possessions?
Down the toilet
March 2011
The coalition is coming with its sharpened machete. Will the railway address its inefficiencies before politicians do the job for it?
A very real fear
February 2011
RSSB's review of the RIDDOR reporting scandal is out, confirming what we already knew - Network Rail won't tolerate bad news.
They just don't get it
January 2011
A 'new approach' has brought another revamp for the Rule Book. This one helpfully scatters edicts to the darkest corners of document control.
Just what we needed
December 2010
While the government is keen to cut paperwork, Network Rail is forcing IWAs and COSSs to embrace even more of it.
Give it a rest
November 2010
RAIB's determination to find underlying causes at all costs has potentially onerous implications for those managing on-track safety.
Ill-gotten gains
October 2010
Whilst the public face of Network Rails extols a ‘safety first’ ethos, its leaders’ behind-the-scenes actions rarely match the aggrandisement.
Self-inflicted wounds
September 2010
It's hard to understand the occasion willingness of trackworkers and their representatives to shoot themselves in the foot.
Fetch the cleaver!
August 2010
The railway is right to celebrate the improvements in safety it's delivered over the past ten years...except when it comes to trackworkers.
Colour blind
July 2010
How come safety strategists can't get their heads around the broader risks associated with supposedly 'better' methods of protection?
Same old 'New Approach'?
June 2010
Seven years after its cosmetic rehash, a new Rule Book is being implemented in gribs and grabs. What does this one offer that the last one didn't?
I want to be alone
May 2010
Do our trackworkers really demonstrate their competence by temporarily digesting and then regurgitating distances and bullet points?
Total recall
April 2010
It's getting to the point where RAIB doesn't need to investigate accidents - it can just copy and paste a new location name into its last report.
Cart before the horse
March 2010
'Jam tomorrow' is a tasty message but today's railway needs a sustaining diet if the maintenance regime is not to become malnourished.
Views from the grandstand
February 2010
Temporary speed restrictions and a lookout ban - how trackworker safety could be improved on Cloud Cuckoo Land's rail network.
Talk a good game
January 2010
Network Rail's top brass are committed to improving workforce safety, except when it comes to problems demanding time, effort and money.
Different rules apply
December 2009
So what does the wider industry think of RAIB's inquiry timescales - "quicker than other safety organisations" as asserted in its Annual Report, or "poor"?
You're on your own
November 2009
So, RSSB is to rewrite the Rule Book. And not before time. But who will it really benefit - those at the front line or the directors worried about corporate liability?
When will we ever learn?
October 2009
When a railwayman loses his life at work, you'd think that all stops would be pulled out to prevent a recurrence. Please reconsider this expectation.
On the blind side
September 2009
20 months after it happened, we can consider a tragedy which left a trackworker with brain damage, but do investigators have the skills to understand its cause?
We've been here before
August 2009
We're meant to learn lessons from accidents and yet the same causal factors recur time and time again because strategists don't understand people.
The haves and the have-lots
July 2009
It leaves a sour taste when the generals take home generous remunation packages whilst conniving to impose tougher T&Cs on their troops.
To boldly go...
June 2009
The first rule you learn before setting foot on the railway is 'never endanger yourself'. Unfortunately, 'one-size-fits-all' wins in an emergency.
Nice video, shame about the song
May 2009
RAIB's report into the long-gone trackworker injury at Victoria has still not seen the light of day. But it has just published a fabulous promotional DVD.
Blue sky thinking outside the box
April 2009
Welcome to Austria - a land where, apparently, common sense prevails. Perhaps they could sort out the East Coast muck spreader for us.
Take a step back
March 2009
The PTS Handbook's long-overdue seventh issue recently emerged into the cold light of scrutiny; following hot on its heels was a list of errors.
Read About It Belatedly
February 2009
It passes judgement on the compliance of others with rules and regulations, yet RAIB routinely fails to meet a generous requirement of an EU Directive.
Wrong place, wrong time
January 2009
"Safety is at the forefront of everything we do" or so Network Rail claims. It doesn't look that way when the same old failings put in regular appearances.
Delays affect RAIB's service
December 2008
Some 14 months after the event, RAIB has finally broken the silence surrounding last year's accident at Leatherhead with the whys and wherefores.
Big news
November 2008
The world's financial system might have been in meltdown but RSSB has sidestepped the turmoil by pocketing another £15million for research.
The 'haves' and 'have nots'
October 2008
While the rest of us fight to survive the financial storm, Network Rail's top brass shelter behind their grand bonuses.
The immoral maze
September 2008
What do you get when you give an organisation £10million to spend on research? The naval-gazing paralysis of 'Taking Safe Decisions'.
All white on the site
August 2008
Hold onto your colour charts. Yellow and orange hardhats are living on borrowed time. From now on it's white only, with Pantone 2935c for new starters!
What a performance!
July 2008
Network Rail has decreed that our safety critical brothers must evolve into professional communicators. And it has decided to achieve this by issuing crass edicts by PowerPoint.
The Emperor's new clothes
June 2008
RSSB was not amused by our review of its feeble Strategic Safety Plan 2008-10 back in April. It claims that the PTS content is meant to be lightweight and only employers should be reading it. How many more straws can our safety leaders clutch?
Safe but not sound
May 2008
Last month, a "former track maintenance engineer" publicised his view that red zone working at switches and crossings should be consigned to the history books. From which hat does this magician intend to pull all those extra line blockages?
Empty box, golden wrapping
April 2008
The railway's 2008-2010 Strategic Safety Plan was launched silently in January. No wonder RSSB didn't draw attention to it - it's completely devoid of substance.
COSSt a packet
March 2008
Reform of our competency regime offers a rare win-win - sharpening the focus of our safety critical friends whilst clawing back cash by the bucketful. Doing nothing will leave us continuing to manage the fallout from floundering practitioners.
Utopia in a real world
February 2008
Having sent the old PTS video to the knackers yard, NR has unveiled 20 new bite-sized modules featuring real people in the real world. How long before magnifying glasses and slow-motion controls reveal some procedural oddities?
Blissful ignorance strikes again
January 2008
'Point watching' has become a pragmatic solution to work at busy junctions. Unfortunately it was not applied last March at Tinsley Green, resulting in a near-death experience for a welder. Why then does RAIB want to ban the practice?
Plan, resource, deliver
December 2007
Five years ago this month, the railway was entertained to a Christmas pantomine - the implementation of Rimini. After a few difficult months, it cemented its place in the track safety landscape. What difference has it made and will it still be with us in another five years?
Elephant in the room
November 2007
Statistics suggest that workforce safety has recovered well from the tragedy of Tebay. Reports received by CIRAS paint a rather different picture. What's the real story and why do managers focus on the 'workface procedure' as a safeguard against cock-up and conspiracy.
The forgotten art of risk assessment
October 2007
Policymakers mandate irrelevant PPE. The RMT wants dedicated COSSs. Whatever happened to 'horses for courses'?
Golden nuggets in dark corners
September 2007
In March 2006, eight trackworkers - fully laden with paperwork - had a lucky escape when a train rampaged through their unprotected worksite. Why did every one of the industry's defences fail them?
September 2007
Recent research by the HSE and RSSB has inspired us at death by health and safety to begin our own programme of investigations. We're sure you'll agree that it represents staggering value for money.
The pendulum swings
August 2007
Since the Seventies, a scattering of safeguards have transformed the working lives of many railwayman. But safety engineers have now buried frontline activity beneath a burden of irrelevance.
Wise after the event?
July 2007
Trains are not to be tangled with. Luckily their approach is predictable - governed by steel guides. What then can we do to lift the uncertainty of work near junctions which has caused several deaths over the past decade?
Put a sock in it
June 2007
Don’t bother developing a robust rationale next time you want the rules changed - just stir-up a press campaign, secure the support of your MP and threaten legal action.
Blood squeezed from precious stone
May 2007
Phase two of the changes to our possession procedures come into force on 2nd June. It's not easy to find a clear path through the burgeoning verbiage.
Damned if you do, fired if you don't
April 2007
CIRAS research lifts the lid on the causes of rule violation. Half are deliberate, and most of these result from specific instructions by a manager or supervisor.
Surfing the knowledge ocean
March 2007
Another stream of data traffic has been diverted onto the superhighway. The National Electronic Sectional Appendix is great news for Rimini planners but why will contractors have to pay for it?
Going through the motions
February 2007
Publishing safety plans is a risky business as effort is required to deliver them. Three supposed 'commitments' recently caught our eye before disappearing over the horizon with their backsides on fire.
Foot-in-mouth disease
January 2007
It's undeniable that the scourge of foot-in-mouth disease causes safety to lose its grip on a daily basis. Will Network Rail's day-long workshops help achieve its goal of world class voice communications throughout the industry?
Three-course dog's dinner
December 2006
Where are the T2 rules? In a three-course dog's dinner comprising T2 itself, module AM and December's PON. Is this the 'clarity in action' we were promised during the Rule Book's cosmetic surgery?
Plugging the hole
November 2006
Techno-wizards have lit a flickering flame of hope for those of us prejudiced against separated green zones - the Train Alert Handswitch. Will our leaders recognise its life-saving potential and help navigate it through the perilous approval quagmire?
Suicidal tendencies
October 2006
Safety is compromised by its own complications. Whilst flaws in our processes have long been recognised, the courage and determination to radically reform them still lies undiscovered. The price for that failing continues to be made by our trackworkers.
Gravy train
September 2006
With infrastructure costs soaring, it's no longer tenable to invest in health and safety nonsense just because there's a budget to be spent or box to be ticked.
Another fine mess
August 2006
The brown sticky stuff would hit the fan if office workers were sprayed with sewerage every hour. However North East trackworkers have to grin and bear it.
The silly season
July 2006
Its members often fall foul of the rat's nest of track safety instructions and yet the RMT is marshalling its forces against simplification of T12 and T12.
Sleeping dog dies
June 2006
The TSSG sniffed out innovation, made lots of noise and dragged workforce safety from the undergrowth. But it's now passed away after a period of ill health.
Hell and damnation
May 2006
Cut the shackles. Mop up the trifle. Let's rediscover a simple, forgotten principle: safety stems from people, not process.
A balanced diet
April 2006
Red zone working is fundamentally sound and the right choice for some tasks. We should select the best system from the menu, not the first edible option.
The elastic limit
March 2006
Welcome to a 21st Century worksite featuring 76 COSSs, 34 machines, two trains and a demanding client. And you're working to rules created in the 20th Century.
Close encounters
February 2006
Life-threatening incidents have been part of the railway's furniture since Stephenson launched his Rocket. Even now we average ten close encounters between trackworkers and trains every month. But why do many more near misses go unreported?
Shorn of the fripperies
January 2006
Some passengers now have to fork out "eye watering" sums for the pleasure of travelling on our trains. So it's incumbent on the industry to extract maximum value from every penny earned. Why then does RSSB insist on embracing peripheral trivia?
The corridor of uncertainty
December 2005
Separated green zones have become the default safe system for routine activities in darkness but they neither prevent an encounter with passing trains nor warn of their approach. They offer all the protection of a chocolate fireguard and the sooner they're relegated from the Rimini Premier League the safer people will be.
The fog begins to clear
November 2005
No sooner has the current edition of the PTS Handbook settled into its home of the dusty shelf than a new one falls through the letter box. But issue 6 - which goes live in December - is very different. At long last, the handbook is going back to basics, offering a common sense reference and revision resource for the new starter.
Window dressing
October 2005
Site induction courses. Endless briefings. The grotesque destruction of the rain forest that is a typical method statement. It all purports to improve our safety. In reality, it's just a cardboard facade for companies to hide behind.
Death by design
September 2005
Trackworker fatalities are happening all too regularly - it's a serious challenge for the railway. So why do trackworkers get killed? Simple - because that's the climate the industry has created.
Access all areas?
July 2005
The term 'position of safety' is self-explanatory. Such a shame then that trackworkers have to walk in a 'position of danger' to get to their sites of work. Their institutionally conditioned to tolerate missing cesses but why should they have to?
Rearranging the deckchairs
May 2005
The COSS Handbook seaped out of the treacle factory with the bold intention of explaining track safety instructions in a clear and understandable way. Hang on a minute - wasn't the new Rule Book meant to do that?
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