Railway staff in over 50 countries are planning a day of action to remind politicians, railway chiefs and the public of the importance of keeping railways safe and accessible.

"Rail is one of the safest and most environmentally efficient ways to travel on land and we want to keep it that way," said Mac Urate of the International Transport Workers Federation which is organising the day of action.

"Rail's good record is under threat because of under-investment, staff cuts, privatisation and outsourcing. Safety demands investment in maintenance, in training and in staff numbers. Workers worldwide want to be fully involved in running safe and popular railways, not to be blamed as soon as anything goes wrong."

The day of action is planned for 29 March 2001. With the increasing concern about rail safety in Britain, perhaps British rail unions should be involved.

Last year hundreds of thousands of people in 42 countries took part in a similar day of action.

In Canada and Zambia, discount tickets were issued.

In Austria, Hungary and Slovenia, unions and management signed a joint declaration to promote the railways.

In the Ukraine schoolchildren visited railway plants.

In Ghana. Namibia, New Zealand and the Ukraine, safety inspecions and clean-ups were organised.

Demonstrations also took place in Austria, Bangladesh, Brazil, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Latvia, Malawi, Philippines, Romania, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Thailand, Uganda, Venezuela and Zimbabwe.