Examination of Witnesses (Questions 180
WEDNESDAY 1 NOVEMBER 2000
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
(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 donelike structures
work, vegetation clearance, fencing, rail-grinding and some specialist
inspection servicesby 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.
(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
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
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.