September 2009 in Train Operations
The fault log books kept in a large number of East Midlands cabs in the Nottingham area are simply being replaced when there are a number of faults outstanding, according to one reporter. The concern is that this practice may hide potentially serious faults that have not yet been attended to. It is suggested this has been getting worse in the last six months.
The reporter says it is difficult to tell who exactly is removing the books from the cab. But they are being removed when there are still many blank report forms left. The reporter feels that this covert practice - one that senior management are perhaps unaware of - reinforces a negative view that trains should be run with faults, whatever the safety implications.
The reporter would like some reassurance that when the faults are logged they are effectively dealt with - so it can be ascertained what has been fixed and what hasn't. An internal investigation might be able to uncover how widespread this practice really is.
East Midlands Trains would never run a train in service with a defect which has safety implications. All reported defects are investigated and repaired immediately where possible. Unfortunately, we are unable to repair all defects immediately due to a number of factors including time, resource, materials, depot space, etc. and some non safety related defects are allowed back into service for action on the next exam or other planned time. Where work is deferred, it is based on a conscious decision governed by safety first, along with performance. All deferred work is recorded on RAVERS and can be accessed from all East Midlands Trains depots for when units are stopped for maintenance. All cab fault book entries are completed to state what action has been taken, and this includes if items have been deferred.
There is no covert practice of removing vehicle defect books such that units can run with faults. All operational staff are briefed to call Control in addition to including reports in the defect book, who automatically enter outstanding work into the RAVERS system. There would be no benefit from removing the defect book. All open defects and actioned defects are stored electronically on RAVERS and anyone with access in East Midlands Trains could go in and check by unit. We have discussed whether we should remove the defect book and move over totally to an electronic system, as per our sister company SWT. However, currently this has not been done and we are effectively running two systems in parallel.
There may be times when a book is replaced as there are only a couple of sheets remaining and new books were placed on the newly refurbished units. Additionally, any books containing derogatory language will always be removed and the persons responsible for such entries will be investigated.
Senior Management are not aware of any misuse of the vehicle defect books and we have recently moved to a common EMT fleet defect book as used in the HST and 15X units.
Please be assured that we are working hard to improve fleet improvement, which will reduce defects and would never tolerate unsafe practices in our train maintenance.