June 2009 in Network Rail and Suppliers
The reporter has witnessed on a number of occasions that the customer information system (CIS) at Northallerton station is giving misleading messages during the morning rush hour causing confusion amongst passengers.
For example, the reporter has observed that when the 07:45 Grand Central train is on the approach to the station a "next train due at platform‟ message is given followed by "next train approaching‟ message, this is then immediately followed by a "high speed train warning‟ message to allow the fast train to go through the station. The reporter has observed that passengers with luggage, especially those who do not commute on a daily basis, move right to the edge of the platform with their heavy bags when they hear the "next train due‟ message, in order to position themselves on the platform for when the train arrives. This has resulted in the reporter witnessing drivers of the fast train having to sound their horn as they come through the station to get the passenger to move back from the platform edge. Northallerton station is not manned by platform staff, so there is no one available to move the passengers back from the edge of the platform or warn them of the dangers of the oncoming train.
The CIS is an automated system and the reporter believes that the messages are triggered by where the train is positioned on the infrastructure, not the next train movement. Is the reporter correct in this assumption? The reporter feels that the CIS should be more sensitive to the signal conditions, for example if the 07.45 Grand Central train is stopped at a red signal, the "next train approaching‟ message should be delayed until the "high speed train warning‟ message has been given, as the fast train will be coming through the station first. -Can First Transpennine Express and Network Rail look in to the possibility of changing this to reduce the risk to passengers on the platform?
Your reporter‟s findings are correct, and there are occasions (although infrequent) when the circumstances that are outlined in the report occur. Transpennine Express have carried out a risk assessment at Northallerton and are exploring alternative means of making train announcements.
However, there is signage (safety warning notices) that asks passengers to stand behind the yellow line until trains have stopped/at all times As for the Customer Information Screen automation link - this is linked to the train running system and not the signalling system. The signaller has to make decisions when regulating trains at major junctions so that the most efficient use of the infrastructure capacity is delivered to the travelling public. It is currently not possible for the signaller to adjust the train running system at this location to alleviate incorrect announcements being made.
Express FTPE have been carrying out work to re-assess the
situation at Northallerton which has previously been risk assessed
and control measures put in place. The announcements are triggered
by the movement of the trains and there is a potential problem
should the signaller halt the stopping services to allow the HST to
pass through, the dark winter mornings also contribute.
There are a number of measures already in place such as a yellow line marker on the platform (which exceeds the 1.5 metre stipulated by the Railway Group Standard), passenger announcements, signage reminding passengers not to go beyond the yellow line until the train stops at the platform, a good line of sight (during hours of daylight), the length of platform also allows plenty of room for passengers to stand behind the yellow line.
In addition to these measures FTPE have also introduced further warning notices, a message is displayed on the "next train indicator‟ reminding passengers not to approach the platform edge until the stopping service has arrived at the platform, manual PA messages from FTPE Control room will coincide with the anticipation of the Middlesbrough service when the platform is busy with commuters (at intervals timed prior to trains arriving).
The 3 minute pre-approach PA announcement has been removed for all services calling at Northallerton to prevent passengers moving towards the platform edge (the 30 second approach message remains in use). A further consideration is being given to bringing a member of staff onto the platform during the morning peak. FTPE will continue to monitor this situation and a copy of the risk assessment is available to any member of staff on request.