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WCRC again...this beggars belief


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WEST COAST RAILWAY COMPANY'S STEAM OPERATIONS SUSPENDED

A statement from the ORR:

“The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) has temporarily prohibited West Coast Railway Company Ltd from operating steam trains on the mainline rail network, to protect the safety of its staff, volunteers, passengers and members of the public.

“The enforcement action follows an initial investigation into an incident near Doncaster on 2 October 2015, which found staff on-board locomotive 45231 had turned-off its Train Protection and Warning System (TPWS) isolation equipment, designed to apply an emergency brake if the driver makes an error.

“ORR will not allow the company to run trains where there are not effective controls in place for key safety systems. The regulator is working with the company to make the required improvements before services resume.”

The prohibition comes into effect at 23.00 tonight (November 24). Diesel power operations are not affected.

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Just steam not diesel. Wonder why?

I suspect that this is because the particular risk is with steam operations only. This underlines the fact that the measure is about dealing with a specific risk and is not about imposing punitive commercial measures on an organisation.

 

It will, however, be very interesting to understand exactly what has gone on here.

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Not really "again" is it?

This is the outcome of a previously notified incident.

 

I don't want to make light of the severity of the original 'charge' against WCRC, but it does seem some of the curtain twitchers are just dying to see them fall flat on their traction motors.

 

I have traveled several times with WCRC and I have found their staff and crews to be very professional and an otherwise well run company.

 

Of course, we could just speculate about matters that we have absolutely no knowledge and wait for padlocks to appear.

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Could someone explain to a naive person such as myself, the point of having a TPWS which can be disabled by a driver?

Because there are a number of circumstances which require the driver to legitimately isolate the TPWS

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Not really "again" is it?

This is the outcome of a previously notified incident.

 

I don't want to make light of the severity of the original 'charge' against WCRC, but it does seem some of the curtain twitchers are just dying to see them fall flat on their traction motors.

 

I have traveled several times with WCRC and I have found their staff and crews to be very professional and an otherwise well run company.

 

Of course, we could just speculate about matters that we have absolutely no knowledge and wait for padlocks to appear.

Seriously? Not again? The original 'biggy' was in March, this was in October. That's enough 'again' for me.

 

In the past I've spoken up for West Coast crews having travelled quite a few miles on the footplate with them as owner's rep on various steam locomotives. I too have found that on those trips the job was done competently. However any organisation which allows a repeat of probably one of the most talked about and publicised incidents involving steam operations on the mainline in recent times certainly does, in my view, deserve some sort of punitive action.

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Not really "again" is it?

 

This is the outcome of a previously notified incident.

 

I don't want to make light of the severity of the original 'charge' against WCRC, but it does seem some of the curtain twitchers are just dying to see them fall flat on their traction motors.

 

I have traveled several times with WCRC and I have found their staff and crews to be very professional and an otherwise well run company.

 

Of course, we could just speculate about matters that we have absolutely no knowledge and wait for padlocks to appear.

 

Derek, surely it is "again" in as much as it sounds on the face of it similar to the incident at Wootton Bassett which saw them 'suspended' earlier in the year.

 

I don't want to see them fail either having been a satisfied customer many times and in fact know some of their crew members very well (some are ex colleagues).

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Just steam not diesel. Wonder why?

  

This does seem strange - are the steam and diesel operations run completely independently with different crews, management and procedures?

 

Just a guess, but if the issue is around the procedural working of Vacuum only braked locomotives or the interaction of TPWS and the braking system on these engines, then the ORR probably covering the issue whilst being pretty lenient by only banning steam, as their fleet of diesels and electrics are dual braked.

 

I doubt any infrastructure trains still use bags and I'm not sure whether other steam operators apart from WCRC and Vintage trains run non-airbraked trains, so in the long term would expect Vacuum to be outlawed as a braking method on the MDTR....

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Because there are a number of circumstances which require the driver to legitimately isolate the TPWS

 

 

Thanks..... but would you care to elaborate further?

 

 

Such as, what the circumstances are?

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This does seem strange - are the steam and diesel operations run completely independently with different crews, management and procedures?

It's down to the equipment fitted to the two types of traction. Basically isolating the TPWS on a diesel is harder to do and this the risk of it happening is lower.

Also please do not confuse a permenant isolation (as on its broken) with a temporary time limited suspension (1minute, the train needing to be at a stand first) for when a train needs to be cautioned by a signal for whatever reason as the latter will not affect the functioning of the system once the timer has expired

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To work through Temporary block working, propelling or working within T3 possessions. (not that I expect a kettle to be in a T3......)

 

Also you may need to isolate the TPWs if you stop over the top of an AWS magnet. In most cases if you isolate AWS, TPWS is automatically Isolated too.

 

Andy G

 

(from the AWS and TPWS handbook)

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Phil/Steve

 

To be clear- you are saying that after they were sanctioned for a serious safety failure- passing a signal and allowing TPWS to be isolated, that after having their licence restored that they did the same thing again despite warning? Or is it multiple occurrences that have been detected before the previous warning?

Either way I am not sure this is an appropriate place to be discussing matters that may well turn legal in the future.

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It's down to the equipment fitted to the two types of traction. Basically isolating the TPWS on a diesel is harder to do and this the risk of it happening is lower.

Also please do not confuse a permenant isolation (as on its broken) with a temporary time limited suspension (1minute, the train needing to be at a stand first) for when a train needs to be cautioned by a signal for whatever reason as the latter will not affect the functioning of the system once the timer has expired

This is exactly the point.  The way they have the isolation arranged on at least one of their steam engines (and possibly others?) makes it very easy to isolate and that might well encourage the very act of isolation for whatever reason - plus the fact that (unless things have changed) they work without a Traction Inspector on the engine on steam specials who should potentially oversee such behaviour.

 

It comes as all the more shocking worrying at a time when there are, or have been consultants, working in the company trying to sort their SMS and procedures and after they had given various assurances and indications of progress which allowed them to resume operations after the previous suspension.  And when one would have thought that they would have been rigorous in ensuring that their crews are properly trained in and reminded of the correct procedures.   Note also that this time the action has been taken by ORR - not by Network Rail - which in itself seems to be an indication of the ORR's level of concern.

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Phil/Steve

 

To be clear- you are saying that after they were sanctioned for a serious safety failure- passing a signal and allowing TPWS to be isolated, that after having their licence restored that they did the same thing again despite warning? Or is it multiple occurrences that have been detected before the previous warning?

Either way I am not sure this is an appropriate place to be discussing matters that may well turn legal in the future.

The ORR statement is quite clear. The incident under discussion happened on 2nd October, so yes, the same thing apparently happened again (the same thing being an irregularity with the TPWS, not a SPAD) after having their licence restored.

 

I think that general discussion is fine, it is news for those interested, however certainly there should be no speculation or comment beyond the facts.

Edited by PhilH
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Phil/Steve

 

To be clear- you are saying that after they were sanctioned for a serious safety failure- passing a signal and allowing TPWS to be isolated, that after having their licence restored that they did the same thing again despite warning? Or is it multiple occurrences that have been detected before the previous warning?

 

Either way I am not sure this is an appropriate place to be discussing matters that may well turn legal in the future.

See my post above Derek.  The previous incident involved a number of elements and factors which will hopefully be fully examined when the Report finally emerges from RAIB.  But one of those factors (which was seemingly contributory to the SPAD) was that the AWS/TPWs was isolated contrary to the provisions of the Rule Book, and then some.  

 

What appears to have happened according to Phil's original post in this thread is that a WCRC loco crew have again done exactly the same thing as happened previously - they isolated the AWS/TPWS (or it had been isolated) and was therefore not working.  Now have another look at my post above, particularly the second paragraph.

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Onre thing I do note on re reading the ORR's statement is that the word isolation is not used, the wording is that the equipment was turned off. Perhaps this could be an important distinction.

 

As noted above this has to be done in certain circumstances such as propelling with loco and POB. If it's not turned off in that circumstance a false spad can result. However some irregularity was obviously noted which resulted in the ORR's action.

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Thanks Phil

 

Your comments are most wise. Repeating statements made from bona fide sources is one thing- it's the inevitable speculation that will follow that bothers me (the last threads went that way in the end).

 

It does indeed seem somewhat unsettling to read that a company could be caught twice.

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Phil/Steve

 

To be clear- you are saying that after they were sanctioned for a serious safety failure- passing a signal and allowing TPWS to be isolated, that after having their licence restored that they did the same thing again despite warning? Or is it multiple occurrences that have been detected before the previous warning?

 

Either way I am not sure this is an appropriate place to be discussing matters that may well turn legal in the future.

 

I think the others have said it for me, Derek.

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With the advent of many of the recent resignalling schemes on the network, there are some specific locations where isolating the TWPS is the only way to carry out a particular move without accidentally 'dumping the lot', for instance backing a train into the VQ road off the Up Goods at Bescot, you cannot physically see where the TWPS arming / trigger ramps are as they are behind and underneath you, so instead of using the 'overide' button as you'd normally do (which only gives you 60 seconds before it kicks in again), you have to use the 'isolation' switch to prevent an unwanted brake application. Before the area was resignalled this move was controlled by a ground position light signal which didn't have TPWS on its approach.

Edited by Rugd1022
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