February 2011 in Train Operations
Following a change to procedure two years ago, Guards were
instructed to work from the front cab of the rear unit when working
coupled units with no walkthrough.
On normal passenger services Guards are instructed to work from the front cab of the rear unit. However on special football services, Guards are instructed to work from the rear cab of the rear unit. This inconsistency is causing Guards to work differently when working on coupled units with no walkthrough.
From discussions with colleagues the reporter is aware that many Guards would prefer to work from the rear cab of the rear unit, as they feel this is the safest option. It would allow them to see clearly if a train has stopped short on platforms with a slight bend, thus enabling them to inform the Driver that the end of the train is not fully on the platform. This would also prevent the train doors opening and passengers alighting when the full length of the train is not on the platform. To eliminate this risk the reporter believes that all Guards should work from the same location on these services.
Some Northern trains are not designed with vestibules (non-gangway) at the front or rear to gain access to other parts of the train when they are coupled together for train strengthening. Under these circumstances the Conductor is unable to gain access to part of the train whilst in transit. Passengers are accommodated throughout the train.
Northern have a current risk assessment covering specific multiple working situations specific to the scenarios we face in Northern. It currently states that the Conductor should work the train from the front cab of the rear unit. This provides the best balance between the Conductor being able to see the rear of the train and the front portion of the train, for both safety and customer care purposes.
The risk assessment in no way differentiates between a normal service and a football special service; different arrangements are not specified for football special services. Northern have looked into this since receiving this report and could find no evidence of any such instruction relating to football specials, and the same method of working should be applied.
The risk assessment is currently being reviewed as part of the normal planned process for ensuring all risk assessments remain up to date. The points raised in this report regarding the positioning of the Conductor in the train have been fed into the review. If there are any changes to the method of working required following this review they will be briefed to all staff accordingly.
The team which carries out and reviews all risk assessments in Northern is comprised of both management and staff representatives.