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41047 Late notices not filtered to staff

December 2010 in Network Rail and Suppliers

tagged Rules and procedures Training and briefing Communication and teamwork Not Specified

A reporter has contacted CIRAS regarding the withdrawal of late notice cases by Balfour Beatty at various depots including Ashford and Hither Green. The reporter is concerned that staff are not receiving notices, which contain safety critical information such as notification of emergency speed restrictions. Staff are
aware that in some cases emergency notices are not being placed in the late notice case.

It is noted that a system was put in place where text messages containing route information were sent out to staff. However, there have been occasions where whole text messages - or parts of them - have not been delivered because of network failures. The reporter feels that this system is not adequate as it does not follow the procedure stated in the Rule Book. The reporter would like to know:

  • Why the late notice cases were withdrawn, despite being a Rule Book requirement?
  • If the company will consider reviewing the system in place to keep staff up-to-date with route information?

Response from Balfour Beatty

The operation of our fleet of on-track machines includes the commencement of Driver's working shifts at stabling points without any provision for paper based communication. These stabling points comprise remote sidings and NR yards without Balfour Beatty management present. Drivers may commence work at any of these locations or at one of our various plant depots. This has been an operational arrangement for many years. However, the obligation to inform Drivers of late notice information was not being met at the remote booking on points. In order to ensure that late information is communicated to the Drivers consistently the text messaging was introduced in 2008. The original document dated 5 February 2008, advising that text messaging was to be used, was distributed to all Operators and explained that the text service would inform Drivers/Operators of any necessary information including Temporary and Emergency Speed Restrictions (TSRs and ESRs).

There isn't a Rule Book requirement to communicate late notice information via 'late notice cases' and these were withdrawn after this texting system had been in place for over a year. A late notice cases document indicates they were withdrawn 21 March 2009; this document was placed in all notice boards at all depots. Further to this all Drivers record the start of their shift, regardless of location, by telephone call to the BB Rail Renewals control centre at Hither Green. The Controllers on duty have a responsibility to mention any late information such as new ESRs to Operators as they book on. This advice is in addition to the issue of personal text messages.

This combination of a message service for late notices (predominantly speed restriction changes) and direct conversation with Drivers is more effective than relying on the posting of written advice notes at our main depots. It is understood that other Train Operators, for example DB Schenker, use the same system and processes for late notice communication.

In summary:

  • The Rule Book does not make reference to Drivers obtaining speed restrictions from a late notice case.
  • The text messaging system reaches every Driver regardless of booking on point location.
  • The Controllers on duty mention any late notice ESRs to all Operators as they book on.
  • Any incomplete or partial messages can be checked with the Control Centre during that conversation.

We consider that these arrangements are better than the posting of notes in a 'late notice case'. However, we do undertake to review the systems for keeping Drivers informed of route information as part of our continuous
improvement process.




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