RMT Press Office:
Rail workers today remember the Tebay tragedy which took the lives of four RMT members on 15 February 2004.
During a night shift, an out of control 16-tonne steel wagon rolled down the West Coast Main Line reaching speeds of 40 mph before colliding with several track workers.
Four RMT members tragically died and another 5 were injured in the collision.
Following the incident, Mark Connolly, the boss of the rail maintenance company, MAC Machinery Services, and crane operator Roy Kennett, were tried at Newcastle Crown Court on charges of manslaughter caused by gross negligence. Connolly was also prosecuted for breaches of health and safety law. Both men were found guilty by majority verdicts; Connolly was sentenced to nine years imprisonment and Kennett to two years.
RMT has always blamed fragmentation and privatisation for the tragic events and has resolved to fight for protecting and improving safety standards on the network.
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “We remember these tragedies not only as a mark of respect for our comrades but in order to campaign for proper safety standards, to ensure this never happens again.
“Privatisation and fragmentation is inherently less safe than a joined up publicly owned railway.
“However, despite these tragedies and others, we are having to resist further attacks on safety with 50% planned reductions in scheduled maintenance tasks, hundreds of job losses and more unsocial shifts.
“The cost cutting agenda posed by Network Rail’s plans under so called modernising maintenance, represents a threat to safety standards, our members wellbeing and to the travelling public.
“Make no mistake, RMT will resist threats to safety standards on our railways.”