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50406 & 50451 Subsidence and lighting issues in sidings

May 2012 in London Underground

tagged Infrastructure Security Work environment South East

Two reporters have raised concerns about subsidence and lighting at Loughton and Woodford sidings on the Central Line.

Subsidence issues: The subsidence is mainly near the cable gantry when travelling into Loughton sidings via the entrance road.  An assessment for the walkway, undertaken six months ago, confirmed that it had shifted and gaps were appearing in the footpaths.  The embankment also appears to have large cracks developing in it.  This may be affecting the track as trains are leaning severely to the left when entering the sidings. There does not appear to be a problem when leaving the sidings.

As a temporary solution, the reporter suggests implementing a speed restriction of about five or six mph for all trains coming into the sidings. The reporter would also like to see a more permanent engineering solution.

Lighting issues: Visibility is reduced at Loughton and Woodford sidings because approximately ten percent of the lights are not working at both locations.  This poses a slip/trip/fall risk, which is increased when it is dark as it is difficult for staff to see where they are treading.  

A particular area that causes the reporters' concern is the west end platform at Loughton where the last set of lights are not working.  At this location staff have to walk off the end of the platform and on to the tracks to cross over the line, whilst it is live, in order to get to the sidings.  The lack of lighting at this location poses a high risk to staff as trains are still running.

Similarly the last set of lights on the platform at Woodford are not working, creating a risk to passengers when they are boarding or alighting the train at this location. 

Could London Underground:

  • Investigate the subsidence at Loughton sidings?
  • Consider implementing a temporary speed restriction if required?
  • Outline possible permanent solutions to the subsidence problem?
  • Fix the lighting problems at Loughton and Woodford?

Response from London Underground

Subsidence at Loughton

London Underground are grateful for this issue having been brought to our attention. An inspection of the site was arranged and remedial works to the track and walkways have been carried out by our track maintenance team.

There is evidence of movement of the embankment slope on the east side of the sidings near Loughton over a 100 metre length at the entrance/throat between cable bridges ref.O64 and O65 (between 7708 points and 7710 points).   

Health and safety tours undertaken by the Train Operations Support Manager on 13 May and 24 August 2011 initially raised the issue with the Local Section Track Manager who inspected the site and arranged for local packing of the track and turnout in the affected area. The track adjacent to the slope was packed and remedial works to cracks in the concrete walkway also carried out.

This site was previously inspected in 2003 and 2007 by Civils when the embankment was identified as being serviceable. A special inspection completed on 18 November 2011 identified that the embankment slope does not appear to require any immediate action in addition to the measures already taken by track maintenance. There is evidence of shallow slope movements and animal burrowing. The dry summer and autumn may be a contributing factor.

The earth structures team will introduce a monitoring regime through which we can monitor the rate of any movements and then will carry out a new assessment of the slope which will determine any long term remedial measures necessary for the site. The site is not currently listed as needing work in our earth structures capital projects work bank; this will be reviewed following results of the assessment.

Also the earth structures inspection team will raise with our maintenance team what medium term improvements should be introduced to ensure a stable walkway and reduce the need for frequent interventions by track maintenance

It is stressed that this does not appear to be a slope that requires immediate action but we are grateful for it being brought to our attention and we will work with our track colleagues to ensure a coordinated approach at this sensitive site and to ensure that the area is managed appropriately for the foreseeable future.

The action by the Local Track Manager eliminated the need for any speed restriction. This location is not a high speed area being the approach to sidings with trains empty - i.e. passengers are not carried over this track.

Lighting at Loughton and Woodford

In answer to the reporters' concern regarding the platform lighting at Woodford, all faults have now been fixed.

There are however, a small number of masts in both Loughton and Woodford sidings that remain defective. To repair the mast lighting at these locations requires traction current to be switched off in the sidings and on the Main Line track, which requires a significant notice period. However, these do not raise any safety concerns as Train Drivers are not required to walk in these areas.

The low level lighting that had failed has also been repaired before the Christmas period and a site visit undertaken at the same time did not show up any dark areas and were within depot lighting standards.

We do recognise that re-lamping work is still to be undertaken which will improve the luminance for both Woodford and Loughton sidings and track access to conduct the repairs has been sought. For future reference, any defective lights on a station can be reported to the Station Supervisor or the Fault Report Centre.