Railway safety must be the first priority – EP vote on 4th Railway Package technical pillar

28 Apr 2016

With the vote on the technical pillar of the 4th Railway Package in the European Parliament today the ideologically motivated delay of its approval finally came to an end. The European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) calls on the European Commission (EC), the European Railway Agency (ERA) and all decision makers at national level not only to improve the railway interoperability, but also to increase railway safety when implementing the new legislation.

The new railway safety directive requires railway companies to introduce a so-called ‘just culture’ (occurrence reporting) and expects National Safety Authorities to monitor in a correct manner the respect of locomotive drivers’ driving and rest time.

We observe a lack of proper monitoring and enforcement of the existing rules on driving and rest time for locomotive drivers in an open competitive railway market. This has clear consequences for railway safety” says Sabine Trier, ETF Deputy General Secretary. “Even if we regret that the introduction of a digital recording device has not been included in the legislation, the Commission now has a more solid legal basis to clarify the responsibility for such implementation, controls and possible sanctions.”

Being aware that railway safety depends much on the competence, presence and know-how of railway staff, ETF has always insisted on a culture in which workers feel free to report accidents, almost-accidents or risks without being blamed or exposed to possible individual punishments. “The ETF welcomes the introduction of the principle of a ‘just culture’ in the railway sector: from now on all the actors in the sector are responsible for its effective implementation,” says Sabine Trier.

The ETF, however, rejects the compromise on the political pillar of the 4th Railway Package, which was agreed between the Council and the European Parliament delegations on 19 April 2016. It paves the way for more liberalisation of public passenger services by rail without improving the protection of working conditions and job security for workers concerned. “This is an open invitation to social dumping,” criticises Sabine Trier.

For more information, please contact Sabine Trier, ETF Deputy General Secretary, by e-mail at s.trier@etf-europe.org or by phone at + 32 477 51 28 14.