April 2011 in Freight Operations
A reporter is concerned that Drivers are becoming 'desensitised' to stop boards at Worksop depot in Nottinghamshire. The reporter believes this could potentially cause a collision.
When entering the depot, for example, Drivers would normally stop at the boards as required and await instructions from a Shunter to ensure there are no conflicting train movements. In recent months, due to a staff shortage, there have been gaps of up to four hours where no-one is available to provide instructions. As a 'work around' Drivers have been told they can phone control 60 miles away.
However, the advice given over the phone would appear to imply that if Drivers are comfortable with passing the stop boards they should effectively authorise themselves. According to the reporter, this compromises safety by increasing the likelihood that a Driver will decide to proceed past a stop board without full awareness of other train movements. A Shunter with an overview of train movements can provide clear instructions based on local knowledge, whilst someone based at control 60 miles away is not in a position to do this.
The reporter asks DB Schenker the following questions:
DB Schenker would like to thank the reporter for raising their concerns. The issues at Worksop highlighted in this report have been looked at by the Area Production Manager and a procedure for Driver only operation implemented with the approval of Network Rail in a joint Safe System of Work/Risk Assessment (SSOW/RA) which was consulted through the local departmental committee and Health and Safety Representatives. New signage is now in place referencing 'Please contact Signaller'" and 'Proceed if line is clear after contacting Signaller'.
In addition any movements into the Down and Upside will have a Person in Charge in place before movements take place, stated in the SSOW/RA. Safety performance is being monitored and has not been affected. During the trial period Drivers have been asked to identify any improvements that are viable and would help make operations at Worksop even safer. Over the coming months management will continue to monitor the changes to ensure that a safe transition is taking place.