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ORR not ‘off hook’ for Grayrigg, says RMT

The Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) is “not off the hook” with regards to the 2007 Grayrigg disaster as it was part of a cuts culture that may have contributed to the disaster, rail union RMT has said.

The union wants to see an inquiry into what it says is a culture of “penny pinching” and “short staffing” on the railways.

While it welcomed news that the ORR has started criminal proceedings against Network Rail it added that the prosecution would leave the ORR “facing both ways…On the one hand as the regulator taking this action and on the other as the budget holder demanding yet more cuts from Network Rail that add to the risk of having inadequate time and staff to complete proper patrols and maintenance”, said RMT general secretary Bob Crow.

“There remain systemic problems which have failed to be addressed since this derailment and they have been compounded by the ORR-driven cuts regime and the looming threat to jobs of the McNulty Rail Review.

“This prosecution does not let the ORR off the hook for its role as the driver of the cuts that are still ongoing and RMT repeats its call for an urgent public inquiry that establishes all the facts and which looks at the whole culture of penny pinching and short staffing that is prevalent on the railways.”

Transport workers union TSSA rail union leader Manuel Cortes blamed the Greyrigg accident on a “bully boy regime”. “Our long held view, supported by last year’s full inquest, is that this crash came about as a result of the bully boy regime which operated under former chief executive Iain Coucher and his cronies,” he said.

The union welcomed the criminal prosecution but said it was “disappointed” it took five years to get the go ahead.

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