Carmont: Scottish unions back calls for public inquiry

Scotland’s trade union movement has backed calls for a public inquiry into the 2020 Carmont derailment in which three men died.

At the Scottish Trades Union Congress in Aberdeen on April 27, delegates unanimously endorsed a motion from drivers’ union ASLEF, which argued that it was “essential that every single potential contributing factor to the derailment is independently examined”.

The derailment of a ScotRail ‘Inter7City’ High Speed Train (HST), which resulted in the deaths of driver Brett McCullough, conductor Donald Dinnie and passenger Christopher Stuchbury, took place on August 12 2020. Its immediate cause was a ‘washout’ following heavy rainfall. Six other passengers were injured in the crash, which took place at Carmont, near Stonehaven in Aberdeenshire.

In March, a Rail Accident Investigation Branch report found that drains which should have diverted water away from the track were “not installed as designed” following a modification by a sub-contractor. 

It also found that Network Rail did not have sufficient safety regimes which could have identified the deficiencies in the drainage system. 

Also highlighted was the fact that HSTs, built under British Rail between 1976 and 1982, were not as crashworthy as modern-built trains.

Moving the motion at the STUC’s annual gathering in Aberdeen on April 26, ASLEF delegate Jim Baxter said the incident “leaves me aching to my core”.

He told the conference: “My colleague driver Brett McCullough did his job in the professional and diligent way he always had. But systematic failings meant it was impossible for him to stop his train from derailing.”

ASLEF’s call was backed by RMT delegate Ann Joss, a lay official in her union’s Aberdeen branch who described Dinnie as “a 30-year colleague of mine and a personal friend”.

To read the full story, see RAIL 958.

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