A potentially dangerous action by a Scotrail manager who was standing in for a guard during Tuesday’s conductors’ strike led to the train being cancelled.
The manager was taken off duty after giving the all-clear for a train to travel through a red signal on the Borders Railway.
The incident triggered an investigation and the train was cancelled, forcing passengers to wait one hour for the next service – as trains were running hourly.
News of the safety breach came as conductors were due to stage a second 24-hour walkout yesterday, with further stoppages planned for Saturday and Sunday.
The manager was standing in for striking conductors on the 11:28am train from Tweedbank to Edinburgh.
He signalled to the driver for the train to depart, but the driver did not proceed because the signal was red, and reported the incident.
An industry source told us: “The guard gave two bells to the driver which tells the driver to proceed away, but the signal was at danger so it was a direct rule book discrepancy.
“The driver reported the incident, thus leading to the train being cancelled. An inquiry is ongoing.”
ScotRail confirmed a conductor working a Tweedbank–Edinburgh service gave an “incorrect signal to depart” to the driver.
It said the driver did not accept the signal and the train did not move away. The train was cancelled, which is normal practice in such incidents, and passengers were transferred to the next service.
The manager was taken off duty, following usual procedures.
A ScotRail spokesman said: “Following normal procedure, this was immediately reported to control and our normal internal investigations have commenced.
“These incidents happen occasionally. There is an agreed re-training and support programme for train crew following operational errors.”
The dispute is over plans to change conductors’ duties aboard a new fleet of electric trains being introduced across the central belt from next year.
Drivers would take over control of doors and passenger safety.
Conductors would be left to check tickets, but lower-paid ticket examiners would perform that role on some services.
Transport minister Humza Yousaf said on Wednesday: “The issue of safety is a top priority on our railways, so I’m very disappointed that we’re planning for a second round of industrial action when further dialogue between ScotRail and the RMT union is still an option.
“It is the travelling public that loses out in situations like this, so I once again urge both parties to reopen meaningful discussions to work towards an agreement that stops further strikes from going ahead.
“It is important to remember that ministers do not set the operational policy of the railway, but look to ScotRail and their employee representatives to agree the most efficient solution to take forward with the new train fleet.”