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RMT urges safety probe into Heathrow Express appointment

RAIL watchdogs were yesterday asked to investigate the management of Heathrow Express services over a “flagrant” breach of safety regulations for the sake of a “PR stunt.”

Transport union RMT says Heathrow Express managing director Keith Greenfield took over a job as on-board customer services rep, whose responsibilities include overseeing emergency evacuations, when he had neither the training nor competence to carry it out.

The union has asked the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) to investigate and called for suspension of Heathrow Express’s management pending an investigation.

In a letter to the ORR, RMT acting general secretary Mick Cash said the incident could have endangered passenger and staff safety.

He wrote: “Mr Greenfield was briefed on the safety requirements for the job yet chose to undertake these duties even though he was aware he lacked all necessary qualification to carry out the task.

“What he chose to do was in fact wilful and negligent.”

Mr Cash made it clear that RMT considered such flagrant breaches of rules to be among the most serious incidents it had seen in recent years. 

He added that it was evidence that Heathrow Express managers were “not fit to run a railway” and called for their suspension pending investigation.

Heathrow Express staff are in dispute with management over plans to halve staff numbers and introduce driver-only operations.

Services have been hit by strike action, during which managers have taken on station duties.

The union said the cuts “would render services inherently unsafe and make evacuation in the wake of an emergency incident or terrorist alert an absolute nightmare.”

A spokesman for Heathrow Express added: “We look forward to discussing this with the ORR should they deem it necessary.

“The RMT would do far better to focus its energies on engaging constructively with us on how to implement our plans to secure the future of Heathrow Express and jobs for our people and their members.”

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