February 2012 in Network Rail and Suppliers
A reporter has expressed concerns about the lack of fully functioning bardic lamps and radios available to Train Dispatchers working for Network Rail at Gatwick station.
Bardic lamps.Bardic lamps are used by Train Dispatchers to locate Guards and can display white, green and red lights while some can also display amber. The white light is used to give Guards a signal that a train can leave the station. Bardic lamps are especially needed during crowding on the platforms and when it is dark.
However many Train Dispatchers currently have to work without these lamps and give hand signals to Guards instead. This is due to only a small number of bardic lamps being available at the station, some of which either don't display specific light colours or have broken battery clips. It can take as long as 30 seconds for a Train Dispatcher to capture a Guard's attention, resulting in trains leaving the station late. The reporter is aware that broken bardic lamps have been sent for repair in the past but it takes months before they are returned.
Radios.The reporter believes that some Train Dispatchers are forgetting to return general issue radios to the signing on point at the end of shifts, and are instead putting them in their lockers or taking them home. This results in fewer radios being available to Train Dispatchers on the next shift. Subsequently, Train Dispatchers may not be able to communicate with each other when they are at opposite ends of the platforms. This could also create difficulties in contacting Control during emergency situations.
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 purchase additional bardic lamps to provide enough for each shift?
On 13 June 2011 the issue of broken bardic lamps was brought to our attention. There was a slow turnaround time from the supplier when broken lamps were sent for repair, which was not acceptable.
By 4 July 2011 we had sourced and begun a trial of a new type of bardic lamp (LED) following a recommendation from Birmingham New Street station. The trial was successful so we have procured seven additional new style bardic lamps. In total, after our supplies were audited last week, we have eight new style bardic lamps and three old style halo lamps. This number is above the required amount per shift for staff who require bardics to complete their duties.
Could Network Rail make sure spares are available in the event that lamps are broken?
As above - this is in place. We have a small number of broken lamps which are in the process of being replaced.
Could Network Rail make sure that bardic lamps being sent for repair are returned in a suitable timeframe?
As above - we have a new supplier of bardic lamps which reduces the turnaround time we have had with previous models.
Could Network Rail Brief all Train Dispatch staff that general issue radios should be returned to the signing on point at the end of shifts?
Employees at the station have personal issued radios. We have spare radios, which are administered by the Station Support Assistant. As a precaution we have ordered additional radios on top of the current supply. We will put a brief out for staff to return batteries at the end of their shift so they can be charged.