January 2010 in Train Operations
A report has been received by CIRAS expressing concern about poor communication between management and staff during the dispatch process of, in particular, slam door stock at Edinburgh station. The reporter and his or her colleagues have been made aware that that this is a reoccurring problem on all platforms, especially platforms that are on a sharp curve.
According to the reporter, dispatching slam door stock from these platforms requires at least two dispatchers, who will have reached a clear understanding beforehand about the division of duties. The concern being expressed by staff is that management are getting involved during the dispatch process, often overriding the way of working agreed between staff before starting the process, without communicating to those involved. It is felt by the reporter and his or her colleagues, that this could potentially cause danger to passengers, those boarding the train and those standing or walking on the platform, if the process is disrupted by the intervention of management.
The reporter and his/her colleagues feel that the current procedure should be revised and that all staff including managers should be called together at the beginning of the shift, to communicate the clear division of duties and the principles of safety. Should there need to be a sudden change of action by management due to an emergency, this should be communicated clearly to the staff involved. The reporter feels that safety during the dispatch process should not be overridden because of a possible increase in dwell time at the station.
GNER would like to thank the reporter for raising the issue. We have recently reviewed the train despatch method statements at Edinburgh which were undertaken jointly by one of our safety assessor managers and a health and safety representative.
The only issue raised was in respect of despatching empty coaching stock trains and this was a route wide issue, and has been resolved via the introduction of an additional training element, which is in the process of being briefed to all respective station teams.
In the longer term comprehensive despatch processes for each station will be produced and maintained as part of the company documented procedures for each type of rolling stock and each platform, which will identify roles and responsibilities for those allocated to take the lead and others who form a dedicated despatch team.