TUC: Rail work deaths hit 14 year high
The Trades Union Congress (TUC) Risks Bulletin 205 (7 May 2005) reports on the Rail Safety Performance figures for the calender year 2004, released last week.
Deaths and injuries on the railways increased last year because of a big jump in fatalities among track workers and November's high-speed crash at Ufton Nervet in Berkshire (Risks 182).
* Nine railway staff died at work in 2004, the highest number since 1991.
* Ten passengers died in accidents on trains and stations.
* A further 204 suffered major injuries across the network.
* Taking into account suicides and trespassers, the overall number of deaths on the network rose from 253 to 257.
* Reported assaults on rail staff increased by 6 per cent.
But the Rail Safety and Standards Board said the long-term trends were moving in the right direction. The number of signals passed at red dropped from 379 in 2003 to 346 and there were fewer track defects.
Aidan Nelson, the board's policy director, said: "2004 was a year in which the sustained efforts of the industry... to address risk can be seen to be bearing fruit"
Bob Crow, general secretary of rail union RMT, said that the nine deaths of rail workers was "an indication of a serious problem." Last week, train drivers' union ASLEF said removing 99 per of the risks associated with obstructions on the railways could be achieved cheaply, simply and quickly.