Rest days must be taken by staff to reduce fatigue

THE letter from Richard Hurrell in July 2018 issue (p46) raises more than a few questions.

Anyone who has read Tom Rolt’s Red for Danger will know rest days were introduced as a result of many accidents over the years where fatigue played a part, with those rest days considered essential to allow staff some time off.

They came gradually over the years, as did many other more obvious safety improvements.

More recently, Train Operating Companies and the Trades Unions – aided and abetted by the DfT – have eroded rest days to be simply ‘days off’ to be traded with other staff members, and indeed worked to assist the train companies in doing what they should be able to do if they had correct staffing levels. 

I know of railway workers who work seven days a week, in order to get extra holiday time or help their operating company, and this MUST affect their stamina and fatigue levels?


It is something of a surprise the unions, particularly the RMT, which is campaigning about the role of guards, takes the safety role of rest days more lightly than they should. One has to wonder why they don’t see possible fatigue is a safety issue.

However, one organisation which appears silent about this subject is Office of Rail and Road (ORR) and the Inspectorate.

Is the ORR not concerned about the practice of rest day working?

Why is this department not insisting upon rest days being used for their stated purpose and not traded off between workers or their employers?

Perhaps there are some safety consideration given to this, which ordinary people don’t know about, but the fact rest-day working is ingrained into the railway ethos is surely a cause for concern?

Ian Smith

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