August 2009 in Network Rail and Suppliers
The continuous noise emitted from the new voice recording equipment installed in Haltwhistle signal box is a concern for one reporter. The reporter states that the equipment emits a continuous buzzing sound that staff find both distracting and mentally wearing.
The reporter is also concerned that should staff need to leave the operating floor to use the bathroom they may not hear calls from level crossing users, over the noise from the voice recording equipment. Unlike train movements, calls from level crossing users are unpredictable and therefore staff can not take their personal needs breaks around these.
Should a member of staff miss a call from a level crossing user, the reporter is concerned that a pedestrian may decide to cross anyway. The risk of them not hearing an approaching train at this location is high as the track is situated adjacent to the busy A69.
Concern has also been expressed that the draining nature of the noise could potentially lead to staff shutting the door when they are out of the room or using a radio whilst they are in the room to mask the noise. If this did occur both these practices could affect the signallers‟ ability to hear calls from level crossing users.
Due to a fatality in this area previously, the reporter believes that instructions were issued that stated everyone, both pedestrians and vehicle users, must use the telephone before crossing.
Network Rail thanks the reporter for bringing this issue to
Noise trial tests were undertaken in Honiton Signal Box in Devon and proved to be within regulations and a copy of a report on this can be obtained from the project if required.
The Project concluded that no further installations of this type are to be made. However, the local Manager will be consulted - together with the relevant Health & Safety representative for the location concerned - should any bespoke installations become necessary in the future.