Memorandum by A McGowan (CHT14)
INTERNATIONAL FREIGHT MOVEMENT THROUGH THE
I am grateful for the opportunity to submit evidence
to this committee. The service through the Channel tunnel has
been affected by the movement of economic migrants for a number
of years, in the early days the stowaways were locked in containers
from source, but as the years have passed the tactics used to
gain access to the UK have changed.
In recent months the preferred way to access
trains destined to the tunnel from France has been to storm the
Yard at Fréthun. The groups will storm the yard and trains
so that they can access the sheeted loads in the yard. The staff
there have been overwhelmed on many occasions. The security boundaries
at Fréthun have never been well defined. And even after
a fence was erected recently this was of such a poor design that
it is easily breached.
One of the most horrifying ways that the groups
gain access to the trains is by jumping on moving vehicles. This
is done on trains that are or have departed Fréthun yard
and up to speeds of 50 Kph. This has resulted in many injuries
and deaths of individuals trying to get to Britain. They have
also occupied the four foot (that being the space between the
rails that the train rides on) by doing this they bring the train
to a stand or near to a stand to allow others to access the wagons.
Another way they slow the trains down at precise places is to
get one of the people who has gained access to the trains to open
the air brake pipe thus slowing the train down sufficiently to
allow others to get on board. These groups are organised and it
is clear that they know exactly what they are doing working together
with the theory that one way or another they will all get their
For the people who I represent, the train drivers
at Dollands Moor, France is an extremely stress full place to
be. Train drivers having to face people on the line in front of
his train on a daily basis is taking its toll, this is the one
greatest fear for a driver to have persons on the line. At this
present time I have one of my Drivers taken off tunnel duties
because of the effects of stress, additionally to this I have
two more on review because of the effects of stress. Their immediate
Manger (Traction Inspector) is also on a program for counselling.
Many more drivers are complaining about the situation in France.
People who would do anything to keep the job running are really
concerned about going to France to carry out their duties.
When in France they are in a hostile environment
where they do not speak French. When the situation arises they
find that their lack of language disables them from a level of
comfort that we would take for granted if we were to be involved
in any incident in the UK.
They have seen over the last few months the
traffic through the tunnel plummet. It is concerning to all to
see this taking place at a time where confidence in the railway
is poor, we have seen many of our customers go else where. They
are concerned also for their job security which is stressful,
enough to cope with on top of their permanent state of heightened
alertness when they are driving trains through the tunnel.
A video recently shot by one of the drivers
showed clearly that once the Clandestines board the trains they
do a lot of damage to the wagons and loads. This is not only costly
to EWS but is criminal damage. This would not be tolerated in
this country however these people are never brought to task for
their actions. Some of the goods that we carry have to be dumped
because of their actions.
Regional Health & Safety Rep