Signallers rebriefed and reasonable IT use clarified after distraction concern.
A reporter to CIRAS said that signallers at York Rail Operating Centre (ROC) are distracted by texting and streaming services.
They believed signallers place too much confidence in automatic route setting (ARS), leading to complacency and the belief that operations are risk-free. ARS is effective but vulnerable to issues, such as when services are delayed or there’s a fault. This could lead to a safety incident.
The reporter also said that there is no process to notify signallers in a family emergency, so they may feel they need their mobiles.
Network Rail said that IT equipment not needed for the job, such as mobile phones or streaming services, isn’t permitted on the operating floor. Shift signalling managers (SSM) and local operations managers enforce this. They haven’t reported the behaviours mentioned by the reporter, but will make unannounced visits to check. After the report, the route operations manager visited unannounced on one of the quietest nights and saw no unauthorised use of phones or IT.
SSMs can inform staff in family emergencies and have been briefed on their responsibilities.
Network Rail has removed access to streaming, gaming and social media on workstation computers and rebriefed signallers that ARS is a tool requiring full supervision. It has also updated the Working Safely briefing to clarify reasonable IT use.
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