August 2009 in Train Operations
New dispatch arrangements for trains on platform three at Loughborough station are causing concern for two reporters. The new arrangements mean that conductors can no longer rely on the assistance formerly provided by platform staff during dispatch. Instead, trains on platform three, which is curved, are now to be dispatched solely by conductors. The reporters are concerned both by the safety risk believed to be present, and by the way in which the new arrangements were introduced.
The change was apparently introduced without any consultation with local staff. A brief issued to conductors refers to a risk assessment carried out on platform three. But the reporters state that it contains some important errors. If a risk assessment did indeed take place at the location in question, the brief would probably not refer to "tactile surfaces‟ or a "yellow warning strip‟ because these are not in evidence there. The brief also implies there is a clear line of sight from where the conductor is meant to stand (the front door of the front car) to the southbound signal.
This signal is not, however, visible to the conductor from here, though it can be seen by the driver in his cab. Contrary to what has been said, the whole length of the train cannot be seen either from this position. Taken together, these inaccuracies cast some doubt over the credibility of the risk assessment.
What the reporters are most concerned about, however, is the impact on safety the new dispatch arrangements may have. If the conductor cannot see the southbound signal properly, there is a greater risk of dispatching a train against a red signal. And without the assistance of platform staff, there are fewer pairs of eyes to watch the doors in case passengers are trapped.
It is suggested that the old dispatch arrangements were actually safer - could these be reinstated? However, if the new arrangements are to be retained, the reporters ask for the apparently incorrect details in the risk assessment to be cleared up or for another risk assessment to be carried out.
This matter was brought to the attention of EMT prior to
receiving this CIRAS report. As a result a review of the train
dispatch plan and associated risk assessment for Loughborough
station took place on the 1st June 2009.
An amended train dispatch plan, risk assessment and dispatch instructions have been agreed and re-issued and all infrastructure issues have been reported to Network Rail as part of the risk assessment process.