Wales

Port Talbot rail deaths prompt £70m safety task force

Gareth Delbridge (L) and Michael Lewis (R) Image copyright Family handout
Image caption Gareth Delbridge (L) and Michael Lewis (R) were hit by a train on Wednesday

The deaths of two men has prompted the introduction of a £70m task force to improve the safety of railway workers.

Michael Lewis, 58, and Gareth Delbridge, 64, were struck and killed by a train while working on the tracks near Port Talbot on 3 July.

Network Rail said the new scheme would develop systems to support the well-being of workers.

This would include warnings of approaching trains, better briefings and improving the health the workforce.

Investigations are ongoing into the deaths of Mr Lewis and Mr Delbridge, though police believe they may not have heard the approaching train because they were wearing ear defenders.

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Media captionThe train hit the men while they were on the tracks near Margam, Port Talbot

Network Rail chief executive Andrew Haines said: "I don't want to see another track worker death, which is why we are creating a new team backed by a hefty budget to make working on the railway safer.

"I can't think of a more important task."

The task force would be a partnership of industry organisations including rail regulator the Office of Rail and Road (ORR), trade unions and contractors.

It would be led by the firm's group safety, technical and engineering director, Martin Frobisher.

Image caption A minute's silence for the two workers killed was observed at rail stations across south Wales

The ORR issued Network Rail with two improvement notices on Monday due to concerns over track worker safety. A spokesman stressed this was not a result of last week's deaths.

Mr Frobisher said: "Everyone should expect to get home safe and while our track record has been good and improving, there are still too many close calls and that will be addressed.

"The tragic deaths in Wales last week are a stark reminder to us all that more needs to be done."

Image caption The men were hit and killed by the 09:29 service from Swansea to London Paddington

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