ASLEF’s annual conference at the Park Inn Palace in Southend condemned the cowboy operators who put safety for everyone at risk on Britain’s railways.
In a passionate and thoughtful debate about the safety culture within West Coast Railways and the rise of private companies which rely on part-time or retired drivers employed on a casual basis, Paul Sedgebeer of Reading said: “If we are to share the railway with these cowboy operators, we need a level playing field, and the same knowledge and standards and rules that we have.”
James Glew from Buxton and Peak Forest, said: “This is not an isolated incident. There have been far too many incidents. I saw a driver from Devon and Cornwall learning traction on YouTube 20 minutes before he was out on the track. That can’t be safe.”
Aslef’s general secretary Mick Whelan said: “West Coast Railways are an accident waiting to happen.”
And in a very moving piece of personal testimony which ended with the room rising to applaud his courage in talking about a very difficult work experience, Ryan Howe of Exeter explained the effects on his life of a fatality at Ufton Nervet when he was driving an HST.