June 2009 in Train Operations
A reporter is concerned about the safety of train staff and passengers due to defective emergency telephones in the Stansted airport tunnel.
The reporter is aware of over 70 percent of these emergency telephones not currently working in the Stansted airport tunnel and feels this is a serious safety issue that Network Rail need to address as a matter of urgency. The reporter is aware of a recent incident whereby a fuse blew and the train was brought to a stand when travelling through the tunnel. Electricity was isolated from the train as there was no contact with the overhead line, rendering the cab secure radio (CSR) inoperative. Within the tunnel, the mobile network has very little coverage which means that the emergency telephones are the only means of communication available to a driver when in such incidents.
The reporter is concerned that in a case of emergency when emergency phones are required for use, a driver would have to spend much more time than necessary to find a working emergency telephone to contact a signaller. This could mean that passenger‟s safety is unnecessarily being put at risk. According to the reporter, Network Rail have been aware of this problem since the beginning of this year and believes that trains should not be allowed to travel through the tunnel until Network Rail address the problem with emergency communication within this tunnel.
The tunnel telephones consist of 18 telephones spaced at 102 metre intervals. In addition there are two dial telephones one at each tunnel portal. At the time of the train failure, 9 of the 18 tunnel telephones were non operational. The tunnel itself is 1975 metres in length and checks on mobile phone coverage indicate it is possible to use mobile phones within the tunnel for all but 450 metres in the centre of the tunnel. The failure of the train borne CSR is under investigation to better understand why the CSR failed, which would be the normal method of communication with the Signaller. At the time of train failure the CSR system was fully operational. With regard to the specific queries raised in the CIRAS report: