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Strip Greater Anglia of franchise say union over alleged ‘safety failings’

PUBLISHED: 16:21 20 October 2017 | UPDATED: 19:14 20 October 2017

A Greater Anglia train. Picture: Sonya Duncan.

A Greater Anglia train. Picture: Sonya Duncan.

ARCHANT EASTERN DAILY PRESS (01603) 772434

Transport union bosses are calling for Greater Anglia to be stripped of the rail franchise – claiming safety inspectors uncovered a string of “deficiencies and failings” while guards were on strike.

RMT General Secretary Mick Cash. Picture: RMT RMT General Secretary Mick Cash. Picture: RMT

Chiefs claim the rail safety regulator, the Office of Rail and Road (ORR), wrote to the RMT admitting its inspectors had discovered a range of safety shortfalls arising from the Dutch-owned company’s use of replacement guards during the union’s latest strike action.

At a meeting tonight, general secretary Mick Cash will pledge to take the group’s concerns to Parliament – urging transport secretary Chris Grayling to take action in a bid to prevent Greater Anglia from operating the entire franchise.

But representatives for the rail operator said they would never compromise the safety of passengers, adding that the ORR carried out inspections on the second day of strike action and raised no concerns whatsoever.

Mr Cash said: “Even the rail safety regulator, which is funded by train companies, has been forced to admit that Greater Anglia’s strike breaking operation was riddled with safety deficiencies and failings which meant that passengers and staff who were on Greater Anglia services on strike days on October 3 and 5 were placed at severely increased risk.

Richard Dean of Greater Anglia. Picture: GREATER ANGLIA Richard Dean of Greater Anglia. Picture: GREATER ANGLIA

“The (ORR) has made its findings after prior warnings from the RMT about the company playing fast and loose with safety and after we submitted detailed formal complaints over serious failures. RMT is now calling for the Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling to intervene to protect passengers and workers from Greater Anglia’s appalling disregard for safety and strip the company of the franchise.”

Greater Anglia’s director of train service delivery, Richard Dean, said during the strike conducts safely ran more than 1,000 services.

He added: “We are working with the ORR to take them through the full range of contingency arrangements we put in place in order to run a full service for our customers during RMT industrial action.

“The ORR carried out inspections around the Greater Anglia network on the second day of RMT strike action and observed Greater Anglia operate a full service with no incidents whatsoever.

“We will never compromise the safety of our customers.”

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Drivers are being warned the Orwell Bridge is likely to shut tonight until tomorrow morning due to forecast high winds.

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