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Passport plan aims to keep rail novices safe

BALFOUR BEATTY Rail Maintenance is this month trialling a passport scheme to reduce accidents involving new starters on its rail sites.

New recruits in its Wessex region will be issued with the passports, which will be checked after each shift. The operatives' daily duties will then be entered and signed off by a supervisor. Passport holders will not be allowed into areas where there is a complicated track layout or high number of trains.

They will be assigned a mentor who they will be able to go to for advice and who will monitor their progress. A minder will also watch over them on site.

Passport holders will be signed off by a senior member of staff after six months if it is deemed they have gained enough relevant experience. If not they will have to continue with the scheme.

As a further measure passport holders will have to wear a blue hard hat to differentiate them from more experienced staff.

But the scheme's effectiveness was questioned this week by a rail training expert who said a more industry wide approach was needed to ensure safety on the track. Chairman of Catalis rail training David Raynor said competence across the industry should be certified by an independent assessor.

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