Whistleblowers identify 200 locations and 1,000 jobs under threat from deferred maintenance work
Rail union whistleblowers have pinpointed 200 locations impacted by the recent deferral of maintenance work on the railways.
The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT), called the rail works “essential” and said the deferral of maintenance to rails, sleepers and ballast would create a safety hazard.
The lists name locations in the southern, western and London-to-Crewe regions which have had work deferred. The RMT said further lists were expected from Scotland and the North of England. It estimates over 1,000 railway and engineering jobs were under threat.
"Network Rail cannot seriously expect us to believe that this work is being deferred to take advantage of more efficient but unknown future methods of delivery when the jobs being cut had already been placed with contractors," said Bob Crow. "If Network Rail had already decided that work should take place at these 200 locations in the coming year, what has changed?”
But transport expert, Christian Wolmar, said that the cost-saving measures could prove counterproductive.
“The RMT are playing the safety card,” he said. “There is no evidence that this is dangerous, but it may lead to temporary speed restrictions which will lengthen journeys and result in NR having to pay compensation.”
Network Rail accused the RMT of "scaremongering" and added that travelling by rail in the UK was the safest that it had ever been.
"[The company] announced at the end of January that it was rephrasing its track renewals work in order to deliver value for money for the tax payer," said a spokesman. "This will deliver £4bn of improvements to the railway and will not compromise on safety. Today we have also announced a further 1,000 jobs which will be created this year to help deliver a bigger and better railway for everyone in the capital and across the county.”
Jarvis' shares plummeted by a third in response to the rephasing and the company was later forced to issue a profit warning. Network Rail is the firm's sole client.
The news comes as the future of the railways is debated in the House of Commons.