March 2010 in Network Rail and Suppliers
A reporter has contacted CIRAS with concerns about the condition and positioning of temporary speed restriction (TSR) boards and the use of limited clearance speed restriction boards throughout the Ipswich and Felixstowe areas.
Condition of TSR boards - The first concern is that the TSR boards are always dirty and many are no long reflective, making them difficult if not impossible to see at night. This poses the obvious hazard that a driver could travel through a speed restriction at an inappropriate speed without knowing. The reporter adds that simply cleaning the boards does not work as they are covered in a number of year‟s worth of dirt and oil.
Could Network Rail comment on the possibility of replacing the TSR boards in this area and ensure they are clean and visible in all conditions?
Positioning of TSR boards - The second concern is that the reporter finds the positioning of these boards unusual. TSR boards are meant to be securely fixed in the ballast next to the track. However, the reporter has seen them fixed to posts of OLE and placed in buckets filled with ballast. This presents two problems, the first is that sometimes the OLE posts are on a curve and so the board is placed out of the driver‟s direct line of sight. The second is that the boards are not secure when placed in the buckets and can easily fall over. In both instances the driver may not see the board and apply sharp, sudden braking when realising they are in a speed restriction.
Could Network Rail re-brief staff on the correct positioning of these boards?
Use of limited clearance boards - The third concern is about the use of limited clearance speed restriction boards in place of normal speed restriction boards. The reporter comments that it is common in the Ipswich and Felixstowe areas for limited clearance boards to be used as the standard when there is, in fact, no limited clearance. The reporter finds this confusing and does not understand the practice.
Could Network Rail re-brief staff as to the correct usage of different kinds of speed restriction boards?
Network Rail would like to thank the reporter for raising the above concern regarding the use of speed restriction boards. Safety is a highly important issue for Network Rail.
All the speed boards at the Ipswich depot have been checked and a number of boards were found to be damaged or dirty and these have been taken out of service. All the remaining boards have been cleaned and checked again so that they are fully reflective.
The arrangements for board positioning have been reviewed and were found to be dictated by the equipment that was available in the stores.
The continued use of ballast buckets for mounting boards has been stopped and replaced by rail-foot-clamped speed board brackets. These come in two lengths, a short one for limited clearance use and a standard length version. Staff have been briefed on when each type should be used.
An information poster has also been placed within the board storage area as a permanent reminder to staff.
Finally, staff have also been reminded that the correct erecting equipment should be used at all times.