UK rail investigation into UK rail infrastructure will be late to avoid UK Government blame for cutting staff

BBC Scotland managed to report this with no mention of the UK Government’s responsibility for the safety of rail infrastructure leaving viewers to think perhaps that the SG is late in reporting for fear of getting the blame.

Just after the crash on 14 August 2020, we saw James Cook attempt to confuse.

On BBC Scotland’s The Nine last night, James Cook, repeatedly interrupted the Scottish Transport Secretary, Michael Matheson to say:

Well, exactly! Well, that’s rather the point! Isn’t it. We hear that are these problems. In 2014, a report specifically mentioned this exact area being greatly affected by earthslips. A report last month warned that there had been over six times more flooding events in the year to 2019/20 and earthworks failures nearly trebled. Did you read that report? And if so, what action did your government take on it?

For whatever reason, Matheson did not expose Cook’s misrepresentation of the responsibilities for rail infrastructure and allows him to burst in again with a further implication.

Let’s be clear. Rail infrastructure is a reserved matter, presumably in case the UK Government ever feels the need to use it for some strategic purpose which the Scottish Government might object to and try to obstruct.

Full responsibility for the funding, the maintenance, the inspection and the warning to operators of risk, lies with the UK agency Network Rail which in turn is responsible, only, to the UK Minister. The report was a report for that UK minister and though the Scottish Government may or may not have received a copy, it could not have acted upon it.

Why was Cook not aggressively asking Grant Shapps, the UK Minister for Transport, the questions he misleadingly threw at Matheson?

The day before the Times had suggested where the blame lies:

In the Times this morning, the shocking accusation:

A stretch of railway where three people died when a train derailed and slid down an embankment after huge storms was identified in 2014 as being “greatly affected by earthslips”, it has emerged.

I can’t see the actual source for this dramatic claim which would, if true, cast the UK rail safety regulator and its inspectorate in a very negative light.

The ORR annual health and safety report published in July 2020, of which much is being made, does not in fact, offer any specific evidence that could be used to criticise the inspectorate or the department on the maintenance or checking of the actual place of the incident.

https://orr.gov.uk/rail/health-and-safety/annual-health-and-safety-report

Then on the 19th, I founding this damning evidence of the UK Government’s culpability:

Writing today on wsws.org, Steve James, says:

The horrifying train wreck near Stonehaven, Scotland, last week, was the result of the dilapidated condition of Britain’s rail infrastructure. Starved for decades of essential maintenance funding, the railways have been transformed by successive governments into state-subsidised cash cows for private corporations.

Network Rail’s cost-cutting: It carried out a reduction of its maintenance staff by 12 percent between 2009/10 and 2013/14, down by 2,169 to 15,813. Then it set a target of 2019 of further cost-cutting of 20 percent.

https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2020/08/19/ston-a19.html

No sources for the above figures are offered but can be checked I’m sure.

James finishes with a wider point:

As with the Grenfell Tower disaster and the coronavirus pandemic, the Stonehaven rail crash exposes the systemic elevation of profits above the safety of the population. Every area of life is being subordinated to the accumulation of wealth by a super-rich elite and the corporations they run.

I don’t suppose wsws.org is in the Reporting Scotland editor’s bookmarks.

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9 thoughts on “UK rail investigation into UK rail infrastructure will be late to avoid UK Government blame for cutting staff

  1. Scotland paying for HS2. A total waste of time and monies. Then not having enough to improve railways in Scotland. If monies were invested in the north and Scotland. journey times would be shorter. To rival air travel.

    Journey times in the north and Scotland take nearly twice as long as in the south because of historical lack of investment. Westminster Gov has just cut promised investment in the north. Reneged again.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. James Cook refers to a report last month asks Michael Mathieson

      “Did you read that report? And if so, what action did your government take on it?”

      I did not watch The Nine does it mention the report commissioned by Grant Shapps?

      This item is from 17th March 2021

      http://www.gov.uk/government/news/stonehaven-report-sets-out-measures-to-boost-rail-resilience

      “Stonehaven report sets out measures to boost rail resilience

      Network Rail publishes report on strengthening the resilience of the UK’s rail network against extreme weather conditions following the 2020 Stonehaven tragedy.”

      It says

      “The document builds upon the Resilience of Rail Infrastructure interim report, which was also commissioned by the Transport Secretary immediately after the Stonehaven incident and published in September 2020.”

      Neither the final nor interim reports pre-empt the outcome of the independent investigation by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) into the Stonehaven incident. RAIB is due to publish its findings later this year.”

      In May, the UK government announced Network Rail will be known as Great British Railways from 2023.

      BBC Scotland will no doubt abbreviate the new name to GBR in the hope no one watching the news will notice..

      Liked by 4 people

  2. +++++Newsflash++++

    “It is reported that a huge deluge of porkie pies by the “Cook”, has led to repeated fact-slips on BBC Hootsmon flagship SNP-BAD outlet.”

    “Further details (wont be) released …..later”!

    Liked by 6 people

  3. I am sure that I read not long after the crash, that the English governments’ network rail had been warned about that part of the track being in need of attention re safety.
    If I can find the article I will link it here.
    Maybe recent, but if you look online there is a Network rail Scotland, which is still a bit misleading?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. As Greta stated ‘Blah, Blah, Blah’, this is all you get from the BBC, distortions and lies. I hate them all. Being a member of the BBC reporting and editorial teams must be a great career for increased feelings of self worth and gratification from your job. Of course you need to totally self centred and believe the Daily Express output to feel this kind of gratification.

    Like

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