Your story 'Flaws undermine Railtrack safety scheme' (NCE 15 November) is, I believe, a misleading and unfair exaggeration. The rail industry's Sentinel scheme is working well and has effectively stopped the use of workers without valid competencies.
Eleven invalid temporary cards found in a check of over 2,000 is a very small number. It is my understanding that of the 97 other cards you describe as invalid, only one actually was - the others had not been updated due to administrative delays, etc. To put it another way, all but one of the invalid card holders were fully trained and had up-to-date competencies.
The Sentinel scheme is now showing a way forward for the whole of the construction industry. The Health & Safety Executive has for some time been looking at a passport system to record worker training and competencies.
Such a paper system has drawbacks which Railtrack's card system has overcome.
Instead of criticising the achievement, I suggest you should be supporting them and encouraging the whole construction industry to adopt Sentinel as best practice!
Colin Wheeler (F), colin. wheeler@bbrail. com