May 2012 in Network Rail and Suppliers
Due to two vacancies within the Customer Service Assistant/Security team there are only eight members of staff covering a roster designed for ten. As a result there are not enough members of staff on the station to carry out the emergency plan in a situation such as an evacuation.
According to the reporters, the plan states that two members of staff must be on duty at all times. This is because during an emergency a number of locations within the station must be checked and emergency services liaised with; it is not possible for only one member of staff to carry out these roles. It is felt that the safety of passengers is being put at risk due to inadequate numbers of staff being present.
In addition to this, there are concerns about the increase in assaults being experienced by staff over the last six months, particularly on night shifts. The reporters comment that drunken passengers and vagrants are often abusive, both verbally and physically, to staff and that when working alone at night they are at greater risk of being assaulted. This is having a big impact on morale and has left staff feeling vulnerable.
The reporters believe that due to another member of staff leaving the team in the coming weeks agency staff will be brought in to cover the roster. However, they feel that without adequate training agency staff will provide little support and it is not a long term-solution. It is not understood why Network Rail seem reluctant to hire permanent members of staff to fill these long-standing vacancies.
Could Network Rail
Response from Network Rail
Network Rail would like to thank the reporters for raising these issues.
The Customer Service Assistant (Security) team at Birmingham New Street have been operating with a number of vacancies, many of which have been caused by unforeseeable events. The Station Manager has been using other staff from across the station, as well as agency staff, to provide adequate cover for these vacancies. However we do recognise that this number of vacancies is not sustainable.
Network Rail has recently advertised for another two members of staff, which is expected to ease the situation significantly.
Regarding the emergency plan, the Shift Station Manager (SSM) is aware of the number of staff on duty, and if there is a shortfall in any one area the SSM can make alternative arrangements for evacuation warden responsibilities, making sure that the station can be cleared in the event of an evacuation within the stipulated time required.
The SSM also has other resources available to make sure of compliance with the requirements of the emergency plan and as such the safety and security of staff and passengers at the station has not been compromised by the current vacancies within the team.
In conclusion Network Rail would like to thank the staff at New Street station for doing everything they can to keep the station running smoothly and safely whilst coping with these vacancies.