§ Mrs. Dunwoody
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will hold urgent talks with the chairman of British Rail on the safety of permanent way staff.
§ Mr. David Mitchell
The safety of permanent way staff has been the subject of detailed study in recent years by a special working party set up by the Health and Safety Commission's railways industry advisory committee. The working party is chaired by an inspecting officer of railways and the members include representatives of railway management, the railway trade unions, and the TUC. The committee has so far produced two interim reports and the recommendations in these reports have been, or are being, implemented. During each of the 10 years up to 1985, an average of 12.5 men were killed after being struck by trains whilst at work on the line. The figure for 1986 was four and the total for this year so far is eight, including the four men tragically killed at Methley junction. The inquiry which will be held into this accident will examine whether anything else can reasonably be done to protect those who work on or alongside the line.