May 2011 in Train Operations
Concern has been expressed about two particular turns at Bristol Temple Meads West depot causing distraction amongst Drivers.
Drivers are concerned about the turn starting at 15:00 to take the 15:18 train to Severn Beach. This turn does not allow staff to have a rest break where they can use the toilet or eat until 21:16 when the train arrives at Gloucester, six hours and 15 minutes into their turn. Although they are provided with a short rest period of 13 minutes between 19:28 and 19:41, the reporter comments that this is inadequate as it takes at least eight minutes for the staff to walk to get on the next train.
Staff are only driving the train until 19:28, where they become a passenger on duty until 21:16. The reporter is aware that staff have been told that during this turn they can use the toilets on the train, but in reality this is not always possible because the train is often crowded with standing passengers or the toilets are not working. The reporter also feels that staff should not have to stand and eat their food.
The second turn causing concern is the one starting at 14:44 where staff have to travel to St Phillips Marsh to prepare the train and bring it to Bristol Temple Meads for service at 16:01. This turn involves staff driving continuously for nearly six and a half hours.
During this time staff are not provided with a rest break where
they can use the toilet or eat until 21:11, when the train arrives
at Westbury. Again a short ten minute rest break is provided
between 19:35 and 19:45.
Not having time to rest, eat or use the toilet whilst driving continuously could affect Drivers' concentration and could cause a safety incident.
The reporter believes that the roster has been drawn up on a computer and therefore the problem with the short rest breaks may not have been identified.
First Great Western would like to thank the reporter for brining this to our attention.
All Driver diagrams are subjected to fatigue index testing and measures are put in place to ensure they are compliant. The turn in question has two 15 minute breaks from the cab environment; the first at 16:59 and the second at 17:46, and then a 35 minute Personal Needs Break (PNB) at Gloucester. The turn is within the current agreements as per the West Conditions of Service (December 2009) and should provide Drivers with time to use facilities if needed. However the company recognises it can occasionally be difficult to achieve adequate break relief during very busy periods. Consequently we will commit to reviewing this diagram in consultation with local Driver Union Representatives, with the aim of maximising the length of breaks during the turn.
Although the initial diagram was produced using computer software all diagrams are reviewed by Union Representatives and local management before they are issued. This turn is eight hours and eight minutes long and, whilst there are no statutory breaks until 21:18, there are gaps at frequent intervals during the service which would allow ample time to use facilities. Unfortunately it is not possible to run an efficient service with all turns receiving a 45 minute break at a midway point. On this occasion a 'best fit' has had to be made whereby the needs of the business must be met whilst paying due regard to personal needs and statutory rest requirements. In the case of this turn the accumulated break time totals over 2.5 hours. Once walking and preparation time is allowed for this still provides for more than adequate breaks throughout the duration of the turn.