Operational access to safety-critical information highlighted in concern

tube platform people

Concern

A recent concern suggested that how London Underground (LU) Rule Books are accessed and changes communicated could pose a risk, with staff potentially unable to access safety-critical information. The reporter said that staff do not receive hard copies of Rule Books after updates. An online version is impractical for a train operator on board, as personal digital devices are not allowed to be switched on in the cab and there is no internet or phone signal. Hard copies are also accessible in an incident. The reporter said previously, to announce changes to Rule Books, there would be an Operational Standards Notice (OSN), briefing pack, launch campaign, and staff would need to sign. These updates did not include this:

  • January 2021 LU guidance on Covid-19 measures Issue 2 (and Issue 1 in 2020)
  • January 2021 Rule Book 3 version 5.3
  • February 2021 Rule Book 7 version 7.2.

Announcing changes on the website and in the Traffic Circular (TC) leaves ambiguity, as it is not clear when changes are coming or what they are, they added, asking LU to:

  • reinstate issuing OSNs and briefing packs
  • change the uniform request form to include a Rule Book request
  • stick self-adhesive vinyls printed with updates into existing Rule Books.

London Underground's response

All relevant changes to our Rule Books and associated publications are communicated through the TC and electronic briefings to train operations managers. Time is allowed for briefing train crews before the effective date of the change. Some managers forward the email briefing, others print copies, but the management system needs an audit trail to ensure employees are aware.
We agree that train operators should not access the Rule Books digitally in a train cab. Competence management and operational training – derived from the Rule Book – give staff confidence when dealing with an incident and are refreshed through assessment.

We continue to issue OSNs for substantial changes, but for the Covid-19 guidance we decided not to, as this is not a Rule Book change. The guidance booklet was complementary to the communications campaign. A manager’s briefing pack for train operators was briefed out after extensive consultation.

A briefing booklet was emailed out and put on the Sharepoint site for the other changes. We issued a comprehensive briefing on minor changes to the application of temporary speed restrictions, which went through full consultation.

Once upcoming changes around trespass are agreed, they will be consolidated in the Rule Book suite, for reprint later in 2021. All train operators will receive hard copies.
We will continue to use OSNs, briefings and the TC, but also explore other ways of communicating.