Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 180 - 187)



  180. But at the present time you have something like half the numbers of people that are working in maintenance that worked under the old British Rail?
  (Mr Corbett) I do not believe it is quite that drastic, but the number has come down.

  181. It is very close to 50 per cent of what used to be used. And, indeed, many of the processes now being used are completely different, and there are longer intervals between checking lines, there is not the same degree of visual checks, large amounts are done by equipment that we are not operating in the same way. So there are very considerable changes, are there not?
  (Mr Corbett) These two were around under BR.

  182. No, I do not want to go back over what you told us, Mr Middleton. Would you agree that there has been a drop of almost that extent within the maintenance employment on the railway?
  (Mr Leah) Not completely. I will go back to the staff, Madam Chairman, because in 1994 we know that the BRIS units, the British Rail Infrastructure Services units, had about 18,000 staff, and that went down to about 12,000 by 1999, so that is getting near to your figures. However, a lot of the work that was done by British Rail staff is now being done—like structures work, vegetation clearance, fencing, rail-grinding and some specialist inspection services—by other staff in addition to the 12,000; so probably we are looking at about a 3,500 staff difference.

  183. Finally, have you at any point, and have you since Hatfield, consulted any of the rail unions at all?
  (Mr Corbett) Yes; daily.

  184. Daily?
  (Mr Corbett) Chris talks to them.

  185. When did this begin?
  (Mr Leah) I have spoken to RMT, in the shape of Vernon Hince and ASLEF, in the form of Mick Rix.

  186. Starting when?
  (Mr Leah) Certainly Wednesday, Thursday and Friday last week.

  187. I see; but not before?
  (Mr Corbett) That is not strictly fair. Vernon Hince we talk to a lot, but in the last nine months we have started talking to Mick a lot more, and he now comes to the National Safety Task Force.

  Chairman: Could I point out to you that many of the conclusions in our 1998 report are still relevant, and I trust that we shall see some action. We should also like written notes on several things that have been raised with you this afternoon. And I am grateful to you for attending, as I am to the Committee.

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