CP train company director sacked after voicing safety concerns
José Pontes Correia, a now former director of Portugal’s railway company, has been sacked for speaking up about passenger safety.
As the man in charge of railway carriages and engine units, Correia was well positioned to comment on the danger to the public of extending the life of certain carriage classes.
Correia did not agree with the company’s decision to extend the maintenance cycle for UTE 2240 engines to 300,000 kilometres.
These engine units are used between Lisbon and Tomar, and Figueira da Foz and Coimbra, also on other regional services across the country and also to pull some Intercity trains.
Maintenance work is necessary after 1.7 million kilometres at which point the wheels must be evaluated and replaced, if need be, before the unit can return to active service.
Comboios de Portugal decided to increase the inspection period by 300,000 kilometres to avoid a build up of these engines at maintenance workshops which would cause winter cancellations.
Correia opposed the decision but Comboios de Portugal whipped out ‘a study’ that showed that, at this extended service mileage, safety requirements were fulfilled and that, “this change does not jeopardise the safety of the operation or of the passengers.”
The rail company’s bosses said of Correia’s sacking, that he did not have, “objective conditions for the exercise of the function,” and that its HR policy involves, “a systematic and continuous adjustment of the profiles of its employees to fit the demands and levels of responsibility of the various areas of the company.”
Management then issued a press release, stating that “CP’s maintenance and repair operations are subject to technical opinions and decisions that, in constant contact with the manufacturers, ensure the standards railway safety.”