August 2009 in Train Operations
A reporter has raised concerns over the new NXEC uniform, which is worn by all grades of staff, from drivers to station staff. The uniform includes:
The main concern is over the red scarf, in particular for train drivers. A red scarf could easily be mistaken for a red flag and cause a driver to stop a train unnecessarily, but the reporter is also concerned that drivers will become desensitised to red and more likely to ignore it. In the railway red should always only mean "danger‟, argues the reporter. Drivers may become reluctant to react to red flags when there is actual danger, for example if a driver in an emergency hangs a red flag in his cab, because they start to assume it is just a scarf. The red lining of jackets could cause confusion in the same way, though this is not as pressing an issue as the scarves.
The problem with the grey and black rucksacks is that they will obscure a high visibility vest when worn. The reporter suggests that rucksacks should be bright orange to prevent this.
The reporter acknowledges that there is a need for corporate identity across the company, which is reflected in the uniform, but also feels that the design of these uniforms does not take into account the unique challenges of the railway. This is a widespread concern among NXEC staff, according to the reporter. The reporter suggests that the bright red scarf could be replaced with a blue one, which would still reflect the company colours.
Would National Express East Coast consider:
Note: CIRAS received a similar report in 2008 for National Express East Anglia, concerning the introduction of red fleeces.
National Express East Coast would like to thank the reporter for contacting CIRAS regarding concerns relating to the new uniform.
The uniform items referred to were designed within an extensive development process, incorporating staff wearer trials and staff feedback. We can confirm that this process included careful consideration to the design, including the use of the colour red.
The red scarf referred to is larger than the previous scarf. This is due to staff feedback, to increase warmth, comfort and protection against extreme cold weather conditions. When worn only a small section around the neck is visible (see photograph). The Uniform Wearer Guide issued to all staff, states the scarf is to be worn with an overcoat or anorak, folded around the neck and tucked into the coat. It is deemed this item would not easily be mistaken for a red flag, causing a driver to stop a train unnecessarily.
Drivers will regularly see items of red clothing, as worn by
members of the public whilst on platforms at stations, to which we
have no control.
We have not received reports to evidence confusion or desensitisation to red relating to this. Blocks of red colour, i.e. red coats/jackets, have also appeared in uniform ranges across the rail industry. It is therefore considered there is no significant risk of being desensitised to red, specifically due to the red scarf recently issued to our staff.
The red linings of jackets are concealed within the underside of the jacket and are not visible in the normal wearing of the jacket. There is a very low likelihood of the lining being seen by a driver on the approach to a station, therefore this is not considered to be a safety risk.
With regards to the scarf or jacket being hung in cabs, drivers should take responsibility to ensure they are hung or stored appropriately and not overtly displayed.
Grey and black rucksacks were introduced following extensive feedback from drivers specifically requesting a rucksack for ease of manoeuvring in and out of the drivers cab. The rucksack was specifically designed for rail and is supplied to other TOC‟s. At National Express East Anglia this rucksack was already established, proving favourable amongst drivers and fit for purpose. As a result of this and with involvement from drivers at East Coast, it was agreed to supply the same item. I am pleased to say that extremely positive feedback has been received since the introduction of this rucksack.
The rucksack is used primarily for carrying to and from the train and would not generally be required to be carried or worn on the mainline. Within NXEC we have far less non platform trackside activity than some companies, though there are instances such as on depots where running lines will have to be crossed and in all instances in such environments normal PTS rules would apply, but it is not considered that the rucksack significantly gets in the way of the high visibility warning colour that would be being worn.
As the reporter acknowledges, there is need for Corporate identity, however we do take the matter of safety very seriously regarding uniform items. We will continue to do so in any future uniform developments and continue to involve and welcome feedback from our staff.