CONTRACTOR CARILLION Rail's failure to improve accident rates has led Network Rail to take the unprecedented step of banning it from bidding for future work.
Carillion Rail must radically improve its safety performance or lose out on future projects, said Network Rail major projects and investment director Simon Kirby.
He told NCE that the contractor was ordered to tighten up on safety 10 months ago.
'Over the intervening time their safety culture hasn't improved enough. They're not of the right standard, ' he said.
Kirby said that the number of accidents reported by Carillion Rail was twice the industry average.
The average accident frequency rate for the rail industry is 0.25 per 100,000 hours worked, but Carillion Rail's is 0.5.
Carillion Rail hit back at Network Rail, claiming that its 'safety record stands comparison with the best in our sector'.
It added: 'Network Rail's decision is wholly disproportionate to our overall performance in respect of workplace safety.' The company has signed up to industry safety initiatives aimed at increasing the use of personal protective equipment, and improving work methodologies, risk assessments and onsite communication. The firm has also engaged in 'robust discussions' with Network Rail.
But 'their performance indicators haven't improved as we thought they would', Kirby said.
He added: 'It's not just about accidents but about their underlying safety culture.'
'We want to work with Carillion Rail. They're a major supplier. But we want them to focus on the work they're currently doing, not stretching their management beyond that, chasing new work.' Carillion Rail delivered close to 10% of Network Rail's workload by value last year. Two thirds of its contracts were delivered under frameworks, and a third were individually tendered. Carillion Rail staff worked 300M hours.
Carillion acknowledged there had been an increase in minor accidents 'between midJune and mid-July', coinciding with a restructuring of the rail business. There were seven reportable accidents, but the contractor dismissed this as 'a blip'.
Kirby said Network Rail and Carillion Rail were working on a remedial programme, aimed at changing the contractor's safety culture.
But he warned: 'We'll continue raising the bar. This will be an issue that takes months to resolve, not weeks.'