August 2009 in Network Rail and Suppliers
A reporter is concerned that the instructions in Beckingham signal box were not changed after emergency regulation was re-introduced about six months ago.
Beckingham signal box, situated between Gainsborough and Finningley, had worked under an emergency rule for several years, due to unreliability of the track circuit. About a year ago normal track circuit blocks were re-introduced to improve the capacity of the line, but the track circuit was still unreliable and emergency working was re-introduced about six months ago. However, the box instructions have never been changed back.
According to the emergency rule, signallers are supposed to keep trains at signal 103, which is situated at Beckingham signal box, until the previous train has passed Finningley and "out of section‟ is received from Doncaster.
According to the reporter however, it is now common practice to allow a train to pass 103 and go down to signal 113, which is the protection signal for Haxey crossing. This is done when signallers have seen the previous train clear Haxey crossing on CCTV. This CCTV is not set up for tail-lamp spotting, but rather to monitor that the crossing is clear of road vehicles, and the reporter is concerned that a signaller may make a mistake and believe that a train has cleared the crossing when in fact it hasn‟t, resulting in two trains in a section and a potential collision. If Network Rail does want to break up the section and have trains wait at 113, the reporter suggests that signallers should not have to rely on the current CCTV arrangements to know whether a train has cleared the crossing.
The reporter is also concerned that the only safety measure in place to stop a signaller clearing 113 is a reminder appliance, which means the signal can still be cleared by mistake, which again could result in a collision. 113 is the last signal controlled by Beckingham before Doncaster takes over, so the signaller has no way of knowing if a train is sat at the next signal.
Can Network Rail:
The signalling equipment from B103 signal up to B113 signal is reliable and operational, thus trains are signalled normally up to B113 signal.
Temporary working is that B113 signal should not be cleared until confirmation is received from Doncaster PSB (power signal box) that the train has passed over Finningley crossing complete with tail lamp, and has been afforded signal protection.
This instruction is in place due to rail contamination (rusty rails) due to a low volume in traffic. Plans are in place for the rail grinding train to run so that the condition of the rail can be assessed to determine whether normal working can be resumed.
Reminder appliances are a standard safety feature and when used correctly are designed to prevent errors being made.
The suggestion that Haxley CCTV crossing is being used for spotting of tail lamps is not the method of working expected. Trains are being monitored by Finningley who have protecting signals and the signaller on duty does reliably inform Doncaster PSB once the train has passed complete with tail lamp, to allow the next service to proceed safely.