Belfast Telegraph

Train driver using his tablet when he went through red light in Belfast

By Stephen Gordon

A translink train driver was using a tablet device when he drove through a red light in central Belfast.

Driver Anthony McGouran was standing up away from the controls while using the tablet when his train passed through the danger signal enroute between NIR's Adelaide depot and Great Victoria Street junction, a tribunal has heard.

McGouran was sacked for "gross misconduct" and his claim for unfair dismissal has now been rejected by an employment tribunal.

The experienced driver "had extended his left foot onto the pedal that keeps the train moving" but was "not in the seat close to the controls", the tribunal heard.

He had been standing up "transferring information from his mobile electronic tablet device to his roster book" when he drove through the red light signal at the Belfast junction in January 2013.

Fortunately, the train was not on a main line at the time.

McGouran initially told his bosses that he could not remember touching the tablet and did not recall using it.

But at a disciplinary hearing in August that year he admitted using the electronic device.

He was charged with four incidents of gross misconduct, including driving a train in a dangerous manner, endangering others by ignoring safety rules and unacceptable behaviour likely to bring Translink into disrepute.

He was dismissed and failed to have the decision overturned at two internal appeals.

Mr McGouran claimed unfair dismissal telling the tribunal he believed he had been unfairly treated compared to another train driver who had been given a final written warning by Translink in March 2014 after posting a Facebook photo of himself taken with a mobile phone in his driver's cab.

However, Translink said there was no evidence that the second driver had actually been driving the train or that the train had been moving when he took the picture with his phone.

The tribunal panel said they found Mr McGouran to be "a sincere and reasonable individual who acknowledged that a serious error had been made by him".

It found Mr McGouran had lodged his unfair dismissal claim out of time, but nevertheless it said it would have held that he had not been unfairly dismissed as there was a clear distinction between his case and the Facebook photo incident.

The tribunal said Mr McGouran had been "doing all the wrong things in the driving cab" although they appreciated this was one incident and he had 18 years of experience with Translink.

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