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Rail union leader says "lessons must be learned" after fire alert

The rail signallers’ union RMT has responded to the fire evacuation of the Three Bridges railway signalling centre in Sussex this morning. The incident led to the disruption of services in and out of London, through to Gatwick, and to the south coast.

“Firstly, it is a tribute to the staff at Three Bridges, and the fire brigade, that the emergency procedures were put into effect and carried through in an exemplary fashion this morning.

“RMT now awaits an inquiry into the full facts behind the incident and the evacuation and the union expects to play a full role in the investigation and the drawing up of any conclusions and recommendations.

"However, RMT believes that this morning’s incident shines the spotlight on plans to centralise signalling operations into 14 regional centres, a move that clearly throws up real risks of putting all the eggs in one basket with the obvious problem of a whole region going down if a centre is taken out of action.

“Add to that the shortage of Mobile Operations Managers (MOM’s) to cope in the light of an emergency like the one at Three Bridges, and plans for a massive reduction in signallers’ numbers, and we can see the whole system ending up as a high-wire act taking unnecessary risks.

“Lessons must be learnt.”

– Bob Crow, RMT General Secretary

Gatwick Express train services modified after Preston Park trackside fire

Information on the Gatwick Express website:

Due to a major signalling problem caused by a cable fire near Brighton, Gatwick Express services will continue to operate between London Victoria and Gatwick, but will be extended to Three Bridges tonight.

On Saturday 22 December, Gatwick Express services will run between London Victoria and Gatwick Airport, stopping additionally at East Croydon in both directions on services between 0700-2100.