August 2009 in Train Operations
A concern has been raised regarding a new self-dispatch procedure due to be implemented at Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Airport stations at the beginning of April 2009.
Under conditions of the new self dispatch, the conductors are expected to dispatch their trains on their own without the help of platform dispatch staff. The reporter states that some of the platforms at Liverpool Lime Street station are on a curve and the signal sighting is poor. He or she feels this could present a safety risk if a conductor was to misread the signal and potentially send a train through a red signal. According to the reporter, FTPE feel that the white light on the dispatch button is adequate to indicate that the signal is clear but the reporter disagrees.
At Manchester Airport in particular, the reporter states that
with top train working there is an added risk that the conductors
could become confused as to which train the OFF indicator is
Both stations have high volumes of people on the platforms. The reporter suggests that First TransPennine Express refrain from implementing self-dispatch at these stations and continue to provide a member of dispatch staff on the platform.
First TransPennine Express (FTPE) would like to thank the reporter for highlighting their concerns regarding self dispatch at Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Airport Railway Stations. Whenever a new system of work is to be considered, we are required under the Railways and Other Guided Transport Systems Regulations to carry out a full Safety Validation. FTPE were accompanied by the HMRI on a visit to Liverpool Lime Street and a full risk assessment was carried out, the proposed self dispatch method was fully approved however a new agreement was reached with Northern and the company took the decision to continue with Northern‟s assistance. We emphasise that this was not for reasons of safety.
At Manchester Airport, again a Safety Validation has been completed for the proposed self dispatch method of working and a review meeting has been held. The risks at this location have been assessed jointly by FTPE and Northern Rail and any new method of work will take into account the layout of the station and the sighting of signals and equipment to ensure any risk is as low as is reasonably practicable. A further review meeting is planned for the beginning of August and until this time the current arrangements for dispatch will remain.
First TransPennine Express would like to assure the reporter that any concerns he/she may have concerning safety can be discussed with their line manager or a member of the safety team.