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Derailment (Morpeth)

Volume 84: debated on Wednesday 30 October 1985

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asked the Secretary of State for Transport whether he has received his Railway Inspecting Officer's report on the derailment that occurred on 24 June 1984 at Morpeth; and if he will make a statement.

I have received this report, which includes a number of recommendations for preventing a recurrence of this type of accident. Copies are available in the Library. A number of the recommendations are for the British Railways Board, and I look forward to receiving its formal reply. Other recommendations are appropriate for Government consideration. These include:—

  • 1. Introducing statutory powers to require staff involved with the safety of others on the Railway to submit to a breath, blood or urine test for alcohol
  • (a) if there is any doubt about their sobriety when signing on for duty; or
  • (b) if it is considered that alcohol may have been a contributory factor to an accident.
  • 2. Considering the extension of any new statutory powers to staff with similar responsibilities in other transport industries who are not covered by existing legislation for testing for alcohol levels; and
  • 3. Modernising the language of the relevant sections of the Regulation of the Railaways Act 1842 and the Offences Against the Person Act 1861; making it an offence for any railwayman to be so under the influence of alcohol or drugs that he jeopardises the safety of others; and ensuring that scales of punishment apply automatically to all railways.
  • The Government will consider these recommendations very carefully in consultation with the industries concerned and will then report their conclusions to the House.