May 2012 in Train Operations
A reporter has expressed concern about the change of procedure for terminating trains at Gidea Park station. This procedure is thought to have been introduced without a proper risk assessment being carried out.
The original procedure, Local Method Statement Version 1, 2008, involved Platform Staff moving through the terminating train carriages, and closing each door with the carriage end buttons. The staff would then use a key at the keying out point to give the Train Ready to Start (TRS). This would alert Signallers to switch the signal to green and give Right Away (RA), allowing the train to move into the sidings.
The new procedure, Local Method Statement Version 2, states that Platform Staff are to give the TRS to the terminating train before emptying passengers from carriages. It also states that Platform Staff are to give the Close Doors/Right Away (CD/RA) to the Driver, which the reporter says is only supposed to occur when trains are still in use. The reporter believes this increases the likelihood of passengers being left onboard the train when it goes into the sidings, since the doors remain open for a longer period. Network Rail is not thought to be aware of this change in procedure. It is also not clear if Drivers and Signallers in this area have been made aware of these changes.
The reporter is aware that the risk assessment for this new procedure was carried out without consulting any Trade Union and Safety Representatives, and believes it was introduced to increase performance at platform four after timetables were changed in May.
Could Greater Anglia please:
Response from Greater Anglia (formerly National Express East Anglia)
Greater Anglia would like to thank the reporter for raising their concerns.
There are some services that are terminated at Gidea Park station in the evening before moving into the sidings. Prior to the terminated service departing the station, the automatic route setting computer sets the route and allows the signal to clear. This is controlled by operating the Train Ready to Start (TRS) switch on the platform. The time delay from operation of the switch to the route setting is one minute.
The method of dispatch used at Gidea Park is Platform Staff operating the CD/RA switches. All Drivers should only move away from the station once Platform Staff gave the CD/RA command. The key issues are that the TRTS button is effectively a button to start the signalling sequence, while the instruction to the Driver is via the RA.
A review of the current risk control measures associated with terminating and dispatching trains at Gidea Park has been undertaken and following this we are confident that the modified method is a safe one. The minor change to the method of working at Gidea Park now stipulates that the TRS is operated earlier than before, which does not result in a safety risk in the train terminating process as an unsafe change in working practice would never have been allowed to be introduced.
A Driver's command to depart from the station is via the CD/RA indications, as this informs the Driver that Platform Staff have made the required safety checks as part of the dispatch process. This change offers not only a significant performance benefit for many passengers but also reduces the likelihood of conflict situation arising due to trains arriving late. The process will continue to be monitored to ensure that the risk of personal injury to staff and passengers is as low as is reasonably practicable.
Greater Anglia do acknowledge that this change to the dispatch method was not, and should have been, consulted with Trade Union and Safety Representatives, and that any proposed changes in the future will be consulted with local staff.