New rail report claims safety has got worse since Hatfield

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The Independent Online

A whistleblowers' report into safety on the railways has found evidence of widespread fatigue among drivers and a catalogue of rule violation.

A whistleblowers' report into safety on the railways has found evidence of widespread fatigue among drivers and a catalogue of rule violation.

Some rail staff complained of falling asleep at the wheel while driving to and from work and others said they were being asked to attend training courses when they should be resting between shifts. One signaller had reportedly worked 30 days without a break.

According to Ciras, the industry's confidential reporting system on safety concerns, the situation has worsened since the Hatfield crash last October.

Fears were also raised about serious overcrowding on some routes and concerns that post-Hatfield speed restrictions have not been made clear to drivers. One of the main complaints on rule violation was the lack of look-outs on maintenance work due to staff shortages.

The report says: "Some depots have a quarter of the staff they used to have, leaving managers and supervisors with difficulty covering jobs. Providing incentives to work rest days may not be compatible with safe working."

In the first six months of the national reporting system, which was introduced last year, 36.8 per cent of reported incidents were due to rule violation. Of 95 serious incidents, 24.2 per cent were due to fatigue.

The Association of Train Operating Companies said last night that Ciras "was designed to provide lessons from industry and we intend learning from them".

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