Issues fixed, roles discussed and training arranged after review of rail depot safety.

Treatment train Wigan Springs depot network rail

Autumn treatment train at Wigan Springs depot © Network Rail


Several concerns were raised about Northern’s Wigan Springs depot, all with the potential to cause injury.

The person reporting them was concerned that there were no risk assessments for most tasks, such as changing brake pads, electrical work inside trains, and working with hazardous substances.  The only risk assessment they were aware of was for fuelling tasks.

They added that staff can be told to do three or four safety-critical roles in a shift, creating an unmanageable workload.  They were especially concerned about the designated person having extra roles, as the depot design makes it more difficult to guide trains and ensure no one is in their path.  There are also no limited clearance signs to show where not to stand.

Other concerns were a lack of easily identifiable walking routes at Bickershaw End, and oil pumps leaking, increasing the risk of slips, trips and falls.

The reporter asked Northern to:

  • risk assess all tasks
  • separate the multiple safety-critical roles of staff on a shift, perhaps by adding extra staff
  • ensure walking routes are clearly marked and lit
  • add limited clearance signs
  • fix the oil pumps.

Northern’s response 

We take these concerns very seriously and we are resolving them quickly and methodically.

Our maintenance team has rectified quick tasks, with the oil leaks now fixed.  We have put a risk assessment matrix in place for all tasks, and we have briefed the risk assessments to all staff at Wigan.

This report was escalated to be discussed weekly with central management, with actions communicated and support given where needed.

The depot manager and depot production manager for the Central region visited Wigan after the report, to discuss it with the site supervisors. 

The Safety, Health, Environment and Crime advisor worked with Wigan’s supervisor on the risk assessment matrix and assessed the walking routes.  We are getting quotes for route signs and markings.  Network Rail will install more lighting in Bickershaw End.

Network Rail reviewed the limited clearance concern and confirmed no signs are needed.

Various types of training have been arranged for Wigan’s supervisors, managers and employees.

We have mapped depot roles on to a planner to show time on tasks and down-time.  Long-term, we are reviewing the possibility of introducing a permanent production manager (SPM) at Wigan.

This process has dropped barriers between management and teams.  It has shone a light on Wigan and given them the attention they deserve, with the hope that our employees feel more supported than ever.

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