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Blowing the whistle
The 2 RoSPA articles give a useful background to the Holden verses Connex South Eastern tribunal and ultimately to Connex itself. The articles came about after extensive research including almost 14 hours of interviews. This page includes somes notes and graphics which may illustrate some of the problems that Connex employees have faced and are still facing. There are also a few corrections to some of the points made in the RoSPA articles.
Assaults on drivers rise sharply after Driver Only Operation is imposed on the South Eastern

This chart shows the increase in attacks and assaults on drivers after each South Eastern route became DOO P. Data source: South Eastern Division BR, South Eastern TOC, Connex South Eastern.
  •  The 2 articles explain the role that one health and safety representative played in trying to bring about change within Connex South Eastern. It should never be forgotten that there were always others who played positive roles in trying to stop the deterioration within Connex. Some have been sacked, some hounded out, some are still fighting against this intransigent employer.

  •  DOO P (Driver Only Passenger) Assaults and attacks against drivers were unknown before the imposition of DOO P. 'Imposition' in that management refused consultation with health and safety reps before the start of DOO P, thus breaking health and safety legislation. The June article says that night staffing at Hayes 'had been cut.' This may suggest that fewer staff were kept at Hayes; in fact after the imposition of DOO P there were no members of staff based at Hayes at night, giving a certain violent element a lone target, i.e. the driver. British Transport police would visit Hayes from time to time when available.

  •  Air conditioning. The policy of the South Eastern division, the South Eastern Train Operating Company, then Connex South Eastern when it took over the franchise, was to perpetually delay any solution to the problem of 'solar gain' in drivers' cabs - until the Railway Inspectorate threatened to impose an Improvement Notice. 'Management also pointed out that they were trialling air conditioning in one train,' This is not correct. One unit had a fan, i.e. something that moved hot air around the cab; it was not an air conditioning unit.

  •  Drivers' Restructuring Agreement. Why were some drivers under the impression that duties involving suburban work would last, at most, 9 hours? The documentation, signed both by CSE managers and ASLE&F officials was not clear. Drivers who had attended the few meetings arranged to give information about Drivers' Restructuring said that ASLE&F officials had clearly told them that no suburban duty would be more than 9 hours. Connex refused to publish any duties until after the vote had been announced.

    An ASLE&F company council member, who was subsequently voted out of office, later announced that 'if drivers knew what they were letting themselves in for, they would have voted against.' The maximum length of duty was in fact 11 hours; however, some work that had previously been part of a day's duty, had, after the implementation of Drivers' Restructuring, to be carried out by a driver after booking off. So in reality, the length of duty could be up to 11 hours.
  • Sickness rates increase after drivers' restructuring was introduced by Connex South Eastern

    Sickness increased considerably after the introduction of Drivers' Restructuring - mainly due to the increase in the maximum daily hours a driver had to work. The increase in sickness among Connex South Eastern drivers was 115%. In the Grove Park area - with a higher proportion of DOO P work than any other area - the increase was 210%. Data source: Connex South Eastern.

    Drivers' Restructuring Agreement. The vote was -
    These figures can be interpreted in different ways:
    VOTED YES49.9%472
    Not surprisingly, ASLE&F interpreted these figures differently, only taking into account those who voted YES or NO (as 100%). No account was made of those who never received ballot papers or spoilt their ballot papers for whatever reason:
    VOTED YES56.5%472
    VOTED NO43.5%363

  •  Investigation into the causes of SPADs. The Metro (i.e. London area) health and safety reps met in December 1998 and agreed to investigate every SPAD that took place where Metro drivers were involved - from the introduction of Drivers' Restructuring (June 1997) until December 1998. The SPADs involving country & coastal depots were not investigated. 'Twenty two SPADs occurred on Connex' is therefore not correct. This is the number in the Metro area; the number within Connex was much higher.
  • Connex South Eastern SPADs rise in 1996/7 and 2000/1 whilst  the national trend was down

    The number of SPADs taking place within Connex, in line with the national trend, has been falling over the last 7 years. However, these numbers have not fallen as much as the national rate. During 2 periods the Connex figures have bucked the trend and actually increased. The first period includes the first 10 months under the Drivers' Restructuring agreement conditions. Data source: Her Majesty's Railway Inspectorate.

    Connex South East SPADs increase whilst the national rate was down

    Whilst the national SPAD rate in 1997/8 was declining, SPADs within Connex South Eastern were increasing. The increase was in fact 36%. Data source: Her Majesty's Railway Inspectorate.
  •  The Connex SPAD rate 'was the worst.' Information from the Connex Joint Safety Council via the Drivers' Company Council showed that 2 companies stood out as having Britain's worst SPAD rate - Mersey Rail and Connex South Eastern. However, it became apparent that there are several different methods of calculating SPAD rates, i.e. SPADs per driver, SPADs per mile etc. Therefore CSE came in at different positions in the various SPAD 'league tables.' What is agreed though is that the Connex South Eastern SPAD rate was high and that it increased dramatically from June 1997 into '98 - the opposite to the national trend.

  •  'One driver had been forced to request relief due to fatigue.' This mention in the RoSPA article refers to the results of the Railway Inspectorate survey into the effects of the Drivers' Restructuring agreement. Whilst most drivers dare not complain of fatigue because of the possible repercussions from Connex, there were numerous official complaints made. A list of these complaints will shortly appear on this site.

  •  Sevenoaks Tunnel. Parts of the Sevenoaks Tunnel lining were hit by trains on the 19th August 1997 and 28th October 1997 (not 1998). On the first occasion, one Eurostar and 2 CSE trains struck tunnel lining. Many services were diverted, 9 trains cancelled, 20 part cancelled. Total delays were calculated at 4194 minutes. It was found that 6 portions of lining had collapsed onto the track with further parts of lining hanging down. One driver and 4 passengers were injured.

    On the 28th October total delays were calculated at 3066 minutes. Colin Caller was the Connex manager who refused to do anything about the problems with Sevenoaks Tunnel and who doctored the minutes of the meeting where this was reported by Mr. Holden so that there was no mention of this. Colin Caller was later promoted by Connex. There is a reference to Colin Caller on Helena Wojtczak's website detailing abuses of his power: My Twenty Years as a Guard.

  •  In the 2 RoSPA articles there are 4 occasions where a connection is made between various incidents involving driver Holden and Connex management - and subsequent cases of illness (5 days later in one case). On just one of these 4 occasions was there any connection made and reported to Connex at the time or at the industrial tribunal later - this one case was due to fatigue as a result of working excessive hours.

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  • Connex South Eastern loses train franchise