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Tribunal criticises Railtrack and HMRI

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AN EMPLOYMENT tribunal this week slammed Railtrack and HM Railways Inspectorate for their behaviour in a dispute over how to make the UK's most dangerous signals safer.

The criticisms came in a judgement on Monday which rejected an appeal by Railtrack against an HMRI improvement notice served on 22 most frequent signals passed at danger (SPADS).

The tribunal held that Railtrack had failed in its duty to protect the safety of its employees and others and that HMRI deputy chief inspector Rod Smallwood was therefore correct to serve the improvement notice. The tribunal gave the network manager eight weeks to carry out improvements.

However, the Tribunal was also critical of the HMRI's behaviour. It listed nine concerns including one that the HSE had served the notice 'in haste' three days after last October's Ladbroke Grove train crash which killed 31 people.

The tribunal told HMRI that it should set out what Railtrack had to put right: 'Without Railtrack knowing the concerns of the HSE it is difficult to see how Railtrack could be expected to take robust action to put right the SPADs and potential SPADs to these signals.'

HSE had maintained that it was not its job to tell companies what to do. 'We cannot tell them how to run their business. Our role is to highlight safety issues,' a spokeswoman said.

Railtrack said it was considering whether to appeal against the tribunal decision. It is already appealing to the High Court against an earlier tribunal decision on a prohibition notice served on the signal involved in October's crash.

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