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A video of rail workers sitting perilously close to the tracks when a train passes has sparked a safety probe.
NCE understands that an internal investigation has been launched within Network Rail and that the video has drawn the attention of rail regulator the ORR.
Originally shared via social media platform TikTok last week, the video has now gone viral with more than 27,000 views across various platforms.
In the video, at least seven rail workers can be seen laying down next to the tracks. Shortly afterwards a train passes, with some forced to duck their heads in helmets to protect themselves from ballast dust and debris.
It is unclear where or when the video was taken.
A spokesperson for Network Rail said: “We’re investigating to establish the facts behind the video being circulated on social media and will take action as appropriate if it is found to involve current Network Rail employees.”
ORR chief inspector of railways Ian Prosser also confirmed that he was personally looking into the video after it was sent to him on Twitter.
An ORR spokesperson added: "We’re aware of a video circulating social media and have spoken to Network Rail who are looking into this.
Rail Safety & Standards Board director of system safety & health Ali Chegini added: “Britain’s rail industry employs around 240,000 people who all pride themselves in high levels of professionalism and a duty of care.
“This has contributed to our railways being among the safest in the world. But it’s critical that no one is complacent and this sort of video risks suggesting that.
“Quite rightly, Network Rail and the Office of Rail and Road are following this up in the proper way, to understand how this came to be filmed and shared, so it’s right they look into this to get to the bottom of it.”
Network Rail chief executive Andy Haines has previously committed to improving safety of railway workers after two were killed in Margham, South Wales last July and another in April near Roade in Northamptonshire while undertaking trackside work.
In June, he described the culture and deep-seated behaviours of workers as the “biggest nut to crack” in terms of improving the rail infrastructure operators safety record.
According to Haines, there are four key elements to the track worker safety task force’s work.
“One is about how we plan and undertake maintenance,” he said. “We have had a major breakthrough on that as a result of Covid-19 as it has forced us to make progress with risk-based maintenance in a way that people on some routes were really struggling to get to grips with.
“The second is the technology to protect people so that when they are out and about. Previously the use of devices like track service operating devices and other protections was spasmodic and not consistent across the network but we are now rolling that out.
“The third is about signaller workload and the use of line blockages. That is one area where we have had a challenge in the Covid-19 context because of restrictions on access to signalling centres that has limited non-essential people in these centres so we have lost a little bit of time around that which feeds into engineering access statements and the timetabling process.”
The last one is culture and Haines says that this is going to be “the big nut to crack”.
“Those of us who have been around the railways for some time will know that actually have a long deep-seated culture and that has some brilliant values and makes people loyal and committed to their work,” said Haines.
This article first appeared on www.newcivilengineer.com
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