August 2011 in Network Rail and Suppliers
A reporter is concerned that Signallers in manual boxes between Carmuir and Perth are not observing the safe passage of trains because they either have the blinds in the signal box drawn or they are on the internet computer, with their backs to the window
CIRAS received a previous report about the issue of the blinds being drawn (41091), with the response from Network Rail stating that local management would discuss this issue with the Signallers during their next routine visit to these signal boxes. According to the reporter, the situation improved for a while after the visits, but it has reverted back to the way it was and has been made worse by the introduction of the internet into the signal boxes. The reporter states that often if the blinds are open the Signallers are on the computer and have their backs to the windows as the trains go past, which means they are unable to observe the safe passage of trains.
Whilst the reporter understands that the blinds may be closed during times when sunlight is glaring into the box or at night to aid privacy, it has been noted that the blinds are often drawn at other times too.
Could Network Rail:
Response from Network Rail
Network Rail would like to thank the reporter for bringing their concerns to our attention.
Could Network Rail make sure that their policy on the use of blinds is adhered to in all manual signal boxes in the Carmuir and Perth areas?
As previously mentioned in our response to CIRAS report 41091 the use of blinds in signal boxes are provided to assist the Signaller to mitigate the effect of weather or other environmental features. This will allow the Signaller to observe the panel indications etc... better. In terms of security there is a degree of privacy required also, given the amount of equipment stored at these locations (some signal boxes also switch out at night/ weekends) Via local visits and a local item at the Operations Safety Brief, we will again, reiterate to Signalling Staff the importance of adhering to relevant rules and regulation in association with the safe passage of trains.
Could Network Rail confirm what their policy is on the use of computers in signal boxes?
A few years ago Network Rail reassessed its position to allow computers within signal boxes. This was part of a larger strategy to improve modern communications within signal boxes. There is a strict procedure posted in each signal box identifying the use of each computer including guidelines on how and when the equipment should be used. The policy goes on to remind staff about their situational awareness and not to become distracted. The use of the computer does have its benefits in terms of providing safe operating messages and train running information.
Could Network Rail re-brief Signallers on the importance of having sight of all trains as they pass the signal box?
As per the previous statement in relation to blinds this issue will be addressed via local visits by the management team and a local item briefed at the Operations Safety Brief.