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Issue with opening Class 377 doors on the Thameslink route

Report Number:

January 2014

  • Concern

Concerns have been raised about intermittent faults when opening the doors of the Class 377 trains at certain stations on the Thameslink route.

It is reported that at certain times when Drivers attempt to release the doors at the station, the Train Management System (TMS) indicates that the beacons cannot be detected, preventing the doors from opening. The location of the train then needs to be inputted into the TMS, allowing the doors to open. In some instances, even this will not release the doors, and trains have needed to be rebooted. This can take in excess of five minutes, leaving passengers on the train without an exit route.

It is noted that this has happened at many stations on the Brighton to Bedford route, but occurs most frequently at St. Pancras International, City Thameslink, Farringdon, Blackfriars and Brighton. There are concerns that this could delay an emergency exit if an incident were to occur, leaving passengers at risk.

Could First Capital Connect:

  • Identify if there is a problem with the 377 stock preventing the doors from opening at times?
  • Resolve the problem, if there is one?

Could Network Rail:

  • Identify if there is a problem with the beacons at stations on the Thameslink route?
  • Resolve the problem, if there is one?

 

 

  • Response

Response from First Capital Connect

FCC would like to thank the reporter for bringing this matter to our attention.

Operation of Class 377 train doors require a Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) signal to identify that the train is in a station to allow the Driver to open the doors. Effectively this prevents the doors being operated in error when the train is not at a station and as such is a safety feature of the trains.

Where the stations are in tunnels, for example St Pancras International low level, and the train cannot receive a GPS signal directly, additional GPS repeater beacons are fitted to the track to relay the signal to the train to enable the Driver to release the doors.

A considerable amount of work has already been done with Network Rail to improve the efficiency of the beacons and this work has also caused a massive reduction in the number of times that the doors do not release first time.

However, we are aware that there are still occasional problems, which results in the Driver having to either manually tell the train where it is via the "location not found" option in the TMS, or in the event of that not working, using the emergency door release option in the train management system.

Initial investigations are pointing towards the signal from the beacon being distorted by an unknown source.

We understand that this is frustrating, but the number of occasions that this is happening is reducing and we are working with our industry partners to eliminate the problem entirely.