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21 February 2013, 06:00
The RMT General Secretary Bob Crow has criticised Network Rail on overhead line failures.
Speaking to Heart, Bob Crow said: "The RMT has been raising serious concerns about the shortage of overhead line (OHL) crew and capacity on Britain's railways for a number of years now. We repeated those points only last week when the lines came down at Radlett and now just days later we have another massive OHL failure on our hands (at St Neots). We cannot carry on like this."
Mr Crow added: "The chaos on services hitting hundreds of thousands due to cancellations out of central London as a result of the lines down over night reinforces RMT's demand for a full review of OHL maintenance and emergency staffing numbers and capacity to cope with this growing infrastructure issue and a massive backlog of essential works."
But the RMT leader's claims have been dimissed by Network Rail (NR). In a statement to Heart, an NR spokesperson said:
"Following damage to more than 1km of overhead line equipment at St Neots on Tuesday night our engineers have been working around the clock to restore the best possible service for passengers. Two of the four lines opened to diesel traffic during Wednesday allowing a limited service to run.
East Coast services were stopping additionally at Huntingdon and Peterborough to allow First Capital Connect passengers to make connections."
The statement continued: "Engineers went back on Wednesday night to continue repair work. Further information about services today (Thursday), will be issued as soon as it is confirmed.
We apologise to passengers for the significant disruption this is causing to services. Train operators are providing buses where necessary and have lifted ticketing restrictions to enable passengers to travel via alternative routes.
Passengers are advised to check with their train operator or National Rail Enquiries."
Regarding the 1km of OHL which came down in Radlett last week, again Network Rail dismissed the RMT's assertion a lack of crew were to blame. The statement to Heart also reads:
"The cause of a dewirement on the Midland Main Line at Radlett on Wednesday 13 February was an infrastructure failure. All maintenance on this piece of infrastructure was up to date and maintenance staff numbers were not a factor."