Railway accidents on British Railways

Southern Region 

Central Division


Sweet Hill 19th December 1978 

Involving Littlehampton EMUT Driver Ronald Jefford, 

Brighton EMUT Driver Harry Mitchell 

& Selhurst EMUT  Driver R. D. M. White.  






In recent years we have lost nearly every concession made to our fraternity. The secondman has all but gone from the front of our trains, mileage is only accorded to the elite few, bonus schemes consolidated into basic pay.

This now leaves us all on our own, accepting more responsibility doing twice as much - if not more - work train running than in previous years.

We still have to supervise others to make sure they do their jobs properly when coupling and uncoupling and in the case of train failure. The new Guards are told by their instructors to “Ask the Driver” if they get into difficulty

We supervise ourselves through each working day to ensure the safe and efficient and punctual journey of each train worked. The trains are faster, heavier and we are spending more time in our cabs.

At all times were are responsible for the safety of passengers, expensive equipment and this who work around us.

The comfort and cleanliness of our cabs leave much to be desired and we now learn 14 per cent of our fraternity are “off the track” through ill health.

For all this we are remunerated with a basic wage of £62.80 a week - WE MUST BE MAD!

We idly sit by and watch while others on the regrading wagon go up in leaps and bounds, accepting no further responsibility or work load.

We have now reached the stage whereby Station Managers have nothing to manage than empty or non-existent yards, bus shelter stations and a hand full if staff, A.S.Ms performing duties on stations that were adequately performed by porters ten years ago - Station Supervisors with nothing to supervise other than a few parcels and ASMs doing porters’ work: Motive Power Supervisors with nothing more to worry about than the next day’s alteration sheet, empty loco sheds and empty drivers’ rooms: Area freight Controllers or TOPS offices with no more than one or two  block oil or coal trains and non-revenue earning departmental wagons to register in their expensive machinery.

Controllers who sit in their plush sophisticated office away from the railway, whose only answer to any problem is cancellation due to lack of stock or staff.

These positions may be necessary within our system but they do not deserve all the regrading that has been going on since the pay codes began, while our standard of living goes down and down.

Management are not only treating us fairly they are rubbing our noses in it.

With all these points in view here are my suggest 1979 resolutions

1. All drivers to be reclassified as Train Controllers and awarded Supervisory Grade C conditions. Drivers of trains of 100 mph or above to “Ds”.

2. Train Controllers to spend no more than six hours in cab environment including stopping times.

3. As we are supposed to run the finest train service in the world, we want our status back. Gold Braid to be put where it belongs - on the Train Controllers uniform.

4. A new system of working whereby Train Controllers have some form of social life, and to reduce the stress factor places upon them. 

These conditions have been rightfully ours for years - we now DEMAD then before the 1970 pay negotiations start. If they are not forthcoming, we stand up and fight. If need be to the death. We have nothing to lose.

Micheal Jeffery

Redhill Mixed Traction




Business Performance Scheme still under disc

The Society have agreed to its claim for increased productivity and responsibility being referred to a special sub-committee on condition that it will produce its final report "on or before a date which is acceptable to this Society".

A.S.L.E.&F. General Secretary Ray Buckton explained:- This latest development in our longstanding claim for recognition of increased productivity and responsibility of footplate staff was accepted by the Society's Executive Committee, but they were adamant in establishing our right to set a deadline.


This claim has dragged on for the best part of the year, but we do feel that the setting up of a R.S.N.C. sub-committee to examine solely the agreements and working practices of footplate staff is a step forward.

We have succeeded in getting the British Railways Board to realise that our claim needs to considered in isolation and on its own merits, not mixed up with anything else that happens to be under discussion at any given moment, and the Society is convinced that we can justify our claim, despite R.S.N.T. Decision No.60 which turned it down.

The latest moves came after a month in which Lord McCarthy's Railway Staff National Tribunal rejected the Society's claim, but offered £3.14 per turn for driving trains at more than 100 mph, and unofficial action by A.S.L.E.&F. Southern Region members.


The anger demonstrated by the Southern Region footplate staff simply emphasised that we weren't "crying wolf" when we told the B.R.B. that feeling was running very high on this claim, said the General Secretary.

At a meeting of Executive Committee on Thursday, November 23, it was decided to "agree to a discussion.... at a meeting of the R.S.N.C. to be held on November 28. But the E.C. stood firm on the right to set a deadline for the sub-committee's findings and that unless a satisfactory offer is Mae by the B.R.B., a dispute will exist between the B.R.B. and this Society.

The Executive Committee have also agreed to pursue a policy of negotiating a Business Performance Scheme containing the improvements to the proposals of the B.R.B. made by the R.S.N.T. in Decision No.61.

The main points of the Tribunal Decision No.60, dealing with the claim for recognition of increased productivity and additional responsibility are:-

The claim for a general pay movement on the grounds of comparability was rejected. 

The claim for a separate payment for footplate grades on the grounds of productivity was rejected.

An additional payment for driving trains at more than 100mph was justified and should be equal to 25 per cent of the basic rate per turn per driver.

This payment, amount to £3.14 per driver per turn, should take the form of separate and identifiable allowances confined to those drivers who are required to undertake the additional responsibilities involved.

If other groups could establish a similar case on the grounds of additional responsibility, it is open to the parties to deal with the issue through the normal channels. If the claim were justified, upgrading "would seem the most appropriate solution".

There should be discussion between the B.R.B. and the appropriate unions to deal with the problem that arises when a driver is not longer able to perform the full range of driving duties for reasons of health. These discussions should explore early retirements, regularised arrangements for accommodating ex-drivers in other forms of railway employment.

The Society's Executive Committee rejected Decision No.60 and the General Secretary was instructed to seek an immediate meeting of the R.S.N.C.

This meeting took place on Wednesday, November 22, and resulted in the B.R.B. offering to take part in a special sub-committee "to examine the agreements and working practices relative to footplates staff".

The sub-committee will be made up of Society representatives and representatives of the N.U.R. and the B.R.B. and will report back to theR.S.N.C. T.S.S.A. will have the right to an observer at sub-committee meetings.   



The 39 delegates representing branches of. District Council No.4 have recommended that industrial action proposed on the Southern Region be suspended pending the outcome of current national negotiations.

But the delegates have also set a deadline of January 6, 1979, for a "satisfactory settlement" of the negotiations. If no settlement is reached by then, the District Council will call on the A.S.L.E&F. Executive Committee to institute "effective industrial action" and if the E.C. "fails to take these positive steps, we will recommend to branches that industrial action be resumed".

The District Council met in A.S.L.E.&F. H.Q. on November 27 and after the meeting A.S.L.E.&F. GENERAL Secretary Ray Beckon welcomed the decision as strengthening the negotiating team's hand in talk with the British Railway's Board.

"The unofficial action taken by Southern Region drivers has been a firm rebuttal to those who've accused us of crying wolf over this issue of payment for increased productivity and responsibilities of hotplate staff." he said " We weren't kidding when we warned the B.R.B. of the depth of feeling on this issue and the District Council decision is a responsible one designed to strengthen our arguments round the negotiating table. But by setting a deadline on the negotiations only reaffirms that our members are not prepared to let this issue be dragged on and talked out of court."

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