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Posted (edited)

 

5 hours ago, Oldddudders said:

 

My nearest to a nasty moment was while inspecting a tunnel at the signalman's request, looking for the cause of a track circuit failure. Sadly the signalman in rear didn't seem to know, and cautioned a train through the tunnel while I was on the line. Thanks!

 

Not long after I started (18 years back) I was told of a fairly recent incidence where some of my colleagues were investigating a track circuit failure of some kind and they were perplexed that the voltage on the rails at the feed end of the track circuit was steadily going down, it wasn’t till the had to scramble out of the way for a train did they realise why said voltage was going down.....

 

Like Southerman46, in my 18 years there have been a few ‘hmm... that was a bit to close for comfort’ moments.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by phil-b259

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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, CazRail said:

Awful news, we've been sent back to the yard to be briefed on this. Made my stomach turn when I heard about it 

 

I know exactly how you feel. I had to stop and pause when I heard it come across my radio this morning - I've heard of many fatalities over it, but nothing made me feel like that. My deepest sympathies go out to both the families and staff of the persons involved, the driver of the service and my colleagues across the emergency services. No fatality is easy to work, especially when you know it's one of your own from within the railway family. 

Edited by surfsup
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16 minutes ago, Southernman46 said:

Tunbridge Wells by any chance ??

No, I was never let loose down there - other than as Project Manager for the Grove Junction - Birchden Junction closure!

 

This was what I think is called Chislehurst South Tunnel, on the fast lines between Elmstead Woods and Grove Park. London Bridge had asked me to walk the up line, to check for a broken rail in the morning peak. How comms with Chislehurst box were so inept I do not know. And on hearing the driver sound the horn on entering the tunnel I had time to stand out of the way. Anyway, I am here to tell the trivial tale. 

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Heard the news via the railway grapevine while we were shunting at Small Heath this morning, shocking to hear and so sad, condolences to all concerned.

 

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9 minutes ago, brianusa said:

Is it regulations to wear 'ear defenders' presumably the PC version of ear plugs?  It doesn't mention what they were doing but in such a circumstance I would like to be able to hear what's happening.

      Brian.

 

Many of the tools the p-way use (such as the petrol engined Kano type devices used to lift and pack track) are so loud that proper all over ear defenders are mandatory to protect staff under H&S law regarding DB exposure.

 

Besides killing / maiming staff through contact with trains, the UK railway industry was very good at harming staff through exposure to everything from toxic chemicals, vibrating tools (that cause the dabilitating ‘White finger’ through prolonged use), excessive noise, lung problems from breathing in ballast dust (staff working on NRs High Output Ballast Train must be clean shaven and wear tight fitting dust masks with everyone else kept a long way away), etc

 

As such wearing ear defenders is essential for many tasks these days.

 

However this is not a problem in terms of staff safety as a ‘touch’ based site lookout or line blockage can be used to ensure staff using said devices can be kept out of the way of trains.

 

It seems that tragically whatever system was put in place in Wales this morning broke down - wrong line blocked to trains, staff confused over which line was which on site, etc.

 

We must await the RAIB report to know what went wrong - but I can assure you that the company standards + training are quite clear -  you don’t wear ear defenders on track unless proven alternative methods are put in place to compensate.

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1 hour ago, phil-b259 said:

 

 

Not long after I started (18 years back) I was told of a fairly recent incidence where some of my colleagues were investigating a track circuit failure of some kind and they were perplexed that the voltage on the rails at the feed end of the track circuit was steadily going down, it wasn’t till the had to scramble out of the way for a train did they realise why said voltage was going down.....

 

Like Southerman46, in my 18 years there have been a few ‘hmm... that was a bit to close for comfort’ moments.

 

My most exciting near miss was in the fast line platforms at Wembley Central back in the 1980's. (For those of you lucky enough never to have been there that station is in a curved covered way, and is a bit like a down market Birmingham New Street but with less Brummies.)  On this Monday morning a relaying gang and myself were lifting and packing the Down Fast after weekend relaying work. Under lookout protection with a 20MPH TSR on the DF, and with the UF open at line speed. We were happily working away when the lookout sounded his horn for an approaching express on the DF. It was soon obvious that the driver had missed the TSR and was doing the full line speed. We promptly threw ourselves and our Duff Jacks up onto the platform, and there were trackman and jacks still rolling across the platform as the train ran through. I can still remember the driver white as a sheet and hanging onto his desk for grim death as his loco pitched and tossed like a ship at sea. Luckily none of us was hurt and the train kept to the rails without hitting the platform. So after a short break while we worked out how to start breathing again, we jumped back down onto the track and carried on. We did not even bother to report the incident as we felt that after the fright the driver had, he would not be making that mistake again.

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2 hours ago, phil-b259 said:

We must await the RAIB report to know what went wrong - but I can assure you that the company standards + training are quite clear -  you don’t wear ear defenders on track unless proven alternative methods are put in place to compensate.

I remember taking the depot H&S meeting one day and handing round a new HQ brief about using ear defenders with a noisy bit of kit we had. The instruction said to use touch lookout warnings when using it on or near the line.

My ever-sharp LDC H&S rep immediately asked "If the operator needs ear defenders why doesn't the touch lookout standing next to him need them?" 

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I seem to remember there was a similar incident at Balham in the 1980s where couple of pway were hit buy a train. they were wearing ear defenders. The lookout sounded his warning, they didn't hear him or the train that hit them.

 

As a result the lookouts were given switches to stop the machinery when a train approached if I remember correctly. I've tried a google search for that incident but nothing appears.

 

My thoughts to the families and friend of the deceased and to the train driver and the emergency services who had to clear up the aftermath.

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1 hour ago, TheSignalEngineer said:

I remember taking the depot H&S meeting one day and handing round a new HQ brief about using ear defenders with a noisy bit of kit we had. The instruction said to use touch lookout warnings when using it on or near the line.

My ever-sharp LDC H&S rep immediately asked "If the operator needs ear defenders why doesn't the touch lookout standing next to him need them?" 

 

A valid point - but one that can be easily dealt with by having an distant lookout positioned far enough away that they are not exposed to excessive noise.

 

The site lookout (with ear protection) looks at the distant lookout and uses the touch warning to get the workers clear when they see the distant lookout wave their flag.

 

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4 minutes ago, phil-b259 said:

 

A valid point - but one that can be easily dealt with by having an distant lookout positioned far enough away that they are not exposed to excessive noise.

 

The site lookout (with ear protection) looks at the distant lookout and uses the touch warning to get the workers clear when they see the distant lookout wave their flag.

 

Yes, spot on, but it started getting silly on WCML when I had jobs which needed two men to do the work and five lookouts. The only way to do some of them safely was a two line block so they had to wait until they fitted the possession pattern with other work.

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Posted (edited)
8 minutes ago, TheSignalEngineer said:

Yes, spot on, but it started getting silly on WCML when I had jobs which needed two men to do the work and five lookouts. The only way to do some of them safely was a two line block so they had to wait until they fitted the possession pattern with other work.

 

As you say if the number of lookouts starts getting silly then line blockages become necessary.

 

However as Tebay and indeed many other non fatal incidents the RAIB have investigated in the past show, simply being inside a possession or having a line blockage doesn't guarantee no trains (even though that should in theory be the case).

Edited by phil-b259
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Posted (edited)

Ear defenders can include a headphone for communication:

 

 https://www.best4systems.co.uk/3m-peltor

 

To fail-safe, music could be continuously transmitted. If/when the music stops, get clear.

 

Martin.

Edited by martin_wynne
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2 hours ago, TheSignalEngineer said:

Yes, spot on, but it started getting silly on WCML when I had jobs which needed two men to do the work and five lookouts. The only way to do some of them safely was a two line block so they had to wait until they fitted the possession pattern with other work.

Still better to have 5 lookouts, rather than mow someone down! 

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In my short driving career ive had quite a few workers lineside cutting foliage back ect wearing ear muffs and as such not hear me blow the horn initially,  really is dodgy! 

 

Does anyone have any more details on how it happened? 

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Posted (edited)

It is not just ear defenders that cause problems, safety glasses can also be a liability at night as they affect your vision by blurring light sources, or steaming up. Especially if you are doing very minor work like inspection on an unlit site.

Edited by Trog
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12 hours ago, brianusa said:

Is it regulations to wear 'ear defenders' presumably the PC version of ear plugs?  It doesn't mention what they were doing but in such a circumstance I would like to be able to hear what's happening.

      Brian.

It depends on the task being undertaken, but there are specific requirements for getting warnings to staff where normal audible warning is insufficient, typically by touch from a second person not directly involved in the task. 

Whilst anyone getting killed on the railway in the course of their duties is regrettable, it is usually the end result of a chain of failures in the system intended to protect them. As often as not that depends on people, and as well as those who lost their lives, there will be several other people who now have a lot weighing on their minds.

we should not forget, either, the 180-odd people who were left stranded on that train for around three hours, or the line being closed for much longer than that, presumably at the behest of the BTP for reasons that appear inexplicable. After all, the train was not, by itself, responsible for the events.

 

Jim

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Posted (edited)
17 hours ago, brianusa said:

Is it regulations to wear 'ear defenders' presumably the PC version of ear plugs?  It doesn't mention what they were doing but in such a circumstance I would like to be able to hear what's happening.

      Brian.

Track workers wear them for 'rail-grinding' or 'packing' using Kango hammers but these type of jobs usually involve more than 2 people, e.g. a gang and a track possession. Obviously we don't yet know the circumstances of this tragic event and I'm not going to speculate. It will be quite a while, but I'll wait for the official report to deliver the detailed facts and reasons etc. 

Edited by iands
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I'm not in the rail industry so my knowledge of pway procedures and equipment is limited to say the least. Do NR use any visual

form of warning other than a lookout with a flag?

 

The reason I ask is in Germany and Austria I've seen worksites protected with strings of interconnected LED warning lamps. They're daisy-chained together and stretch over the length of the whole site. When a train passes they're activated (whether by a lookout or automatically I don't know) and flash/strobe as a warning. Even in strong sunlight they're very bright. Always seemed like a good idea to me.

 

This isn't meant in anyway as a criticism of NR or their staff btw. Just curious really. 

 

In my industry (shipping/container ships) one of the equivalents to being hit by a train is for Stevedores involved in loading/unloading containers onboard ship to be hit or crushed by containers being placed on them. Working practices are vastly better now than when I started in the industry in 1990 but this type of accident does sadly still happen. 

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22 hours ago, The Stationmaster said:

Yes this is indeed why it is so noticeable and shocking - it has become such a rarity on the national network thanks, mainly I think, to considerable effort being devoted to training and such things as site briefings.  

 

I wonder if NR still use the video BR made recreating a  number of incidents which had involved staff fatalities for the sort of reasons that were so often the case - concentrating on the job in hand and not what was happening on the railway around them, or not having sufficient knowledge of where they were to look after their own safety, or indeed communication failings such as a couple already mentioned in this thread?  We won't know the cause of this awful incident for some  time but I'm pretty sure that whatever is known about it internally about any shortcomings will be briefed out pretty quickly by NR to those who need to know and to be warned.

I remember that video - in fact, anyone who saw it will probably never forget it. It was one of the most effective communication tools I ever came across on the railway. Perhaps an updated version might be worth producing.

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Posted (edited)
48 minutes ago, admiles said:

I'm not in the rail industry so my knowledge of pway procedures and equipment is limited to say the least. Do NR use any visual

form of warning other than a lookout with a flag?

 

The reason I ask is in Germany and Austria I've seen worksites protected with strings of interconnected LED warning lamps. They're daisy-chained together and stretch over the length of the whole site. When a train passes they're activated (whether by a lookout or automatically I don't know) and flash/strobe as a warning. Even in strong sunlight they're very bright. Always seemed like a good idea to me.

 

This isn't meant in anyway as a criticism of NR or their staff btw. Just curious really. 

 

In my industry (shipping/container ships) one of the equivalents to being hit by a train is for Stevedores involved in loading/unloading containers onboard ship to be hit or crushed by containers being placed on them. Working practices are vastly better now than when I started in the industry in 1990 but this type of accident does sadly still happen. 

 

There are a number of 'lookout' systems which are approved for use on NR which can provide warnings without using flags - the catch is they aren't always available or can go wrong where as a human with a flag is readily available and cannot run out of batteries, suffer from damaged cabling etc...

 

You also need to remember that any 'fixed' system requires regular testing / maintenance to keep it effective - and you cannot rely on said system if it is under maintenance so you then need another lookout system to be put in place while you maintain the first (or take line blockages to do so).

 

On NR the generalised term 'lookout warning' describes a system in which staff must move clear for trains, rather than blocking the line to trains with the signaller.

 

On the "Safe System of Work Packs" , with respect to 'lookout systems' (as opposed to 'line blockage' systems) we are all given before going on track, the planner can chose from:-

 

(1 - Preferred) Permanent Warning System - a fixed system installed along the track and permanently plumbed in to the signalling system like the German example.

(2) A Train operated Warning System - a treadle like device fitted to the rails as and when required that activates a portable electronic warning system

(3) A Human activated Warning System - similar to above but using a human to activate the system rather than it be attached to the rails*

(4) Portable Warning System - Older BR developed systems*

(5 - Method of last resort) Unassisted Lookouts - Man / Woman with flags*

 

* These systems still rely on a human to notice the train - and humans can be fallible. See https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/media/55a4e46140f0b61560000003/R082015_150716_Hest_Bank.pdf

 

Its important to remember the reason we use lookouts rather than line blockages for minor works is because they:-

 

  • Are better done in daylight when trains are running (certain track defects or repairs to said defects can only be assessed with trains running over them at speed).
  • The volume of work means there are not enough possessions to do it in (with busy mainlines that run 24/7 like the WCML or the BML opportunities for possessions are limited.
  • The task will take less than a minute to do - by the time a line blockage has been arranged then taken the job will have been done.
  • The track layout / signalling installation means line blockages cannot be obtained without massive disruption to the train service.
  • The signalling system installed means line blockages must extend for long distances (particularly prevalent with power signalling schemes installed up to the end of the 1990s due to the extensive use of automatic signalling over which the signaller has no control.

 

 

 


 

 

 

Edited by phil-b259
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40 minutes ago, admiles said:

I'm not in the rail industry so my knowledge of pway procedures and equipment is limited to say the least. Do NR use any visual

form of warning other than a lookout with a flag?

 

The reason I ask is in Germany and Austria I've seen worksites protected with strings of interconnected LED warning lamps. They're daisy-chained together and stretch over the length of the whole site. When a train passes they're activated (whether by a lookout or automatically I don't know) and flash/strobe as a warning. Even in strong sunlight they're very bright. Always seemed like a good idea to me.

 

This isn't meant in anyway as a criticism of NR or their staff btw. Just curious really. 

 

In my industry (shipping/container ships) one of the equivalents to being hit by a train is for Stevedores involved in loading/unloading containers onboard ship to be hit or crushed by containers being placed on them. Working practices are vastly better now than when I started in the industry in 1990 but this type of accident does sadly still happen. 

There are LOWS (lookout operated warning systems) authorised for use but I have never seen them in action from a company called Zollner.

     Many railway workers will remember the infamous Pee Wee system using drums of cables that had to be ran out up to where an advanced lookout was positioned, he then had a handset that was released on seeing an approching train. Sometimes it was far more dangerous running out the cables than the actual job and many stories emerged about the handset release being taped up to make it easier to hold.

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The Zoller system https://www.zoellner.de/en/automatic-warning-systems/mobile-radio-warning-system-mrws/

 

Down my way we have a dedicated LOWS team to accompany the regular teams for cyclical maintenance duties who use the lightweight kit strapped to their person - however they are much in demand as not only is there a seemingly unending zeal from some within the DU to ban unassisted lookouts thereby putting more and more areas off limits, those who are lucky enough to get to use them cannot speak highly enough about the setup.

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I'm reminded of a very sad incident back in my time at Canton in the 70s at Severn Tunnel Jc; 2 S &T men were run down and killed outright on the up main at the actual junction by the 05.20 Cardiff-Chepstow class 120 dmu, one of my link jobs though I wasn't working it on this occasion.  This was in darkness, and a bitter east wind was blowing, the 120 coasting into the station, and the men were keeping warm with headscarves, and never heard or saw it coming.  They had a lookout and were using lamps, but simply didn't react either to the lookout or the horn.  The driver almost managed to pull up in time, but not quite...

 

Railway lines are very dangerous places, and I was always twitchy walking around on them.  

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Following my post above - I've had a good think and have produced the below as a war story to add some colour - the times when ........................................

 

1) 1981 - Being on the other end of a long steel bar which my fellow apprentice tucked under a train to manovere it around the corner of the training school en route to the store - Colleague's error

2) 1982 - Swanscombe tunnel - caught between refuges during a track walk - my more experienced colleagues advice was "against the wall Son" ............................ :wacko:

3) 1986 - Stonegate - during an electrification snagging walkover - group told to step out of the Down Line by the Lookout as a Hastings unit was about to pass on the opposite line - we would never have hear the 4-CEP electric test train going in the opposite direction that would have wiped us out ........................................ circumstance.

4) 1989 - Farringdon Substation - making an error with a 750v DC busbar isolation that resulted in 3 people being exposed to a live 750v DC busbar ......................... my error.

5) 2002 - Near miss on the Up Slow at Putney after a colleague opened up a blocked line without authority next to failed train & no refuges .............................. that was a interesting conversation subsequently when I read him his fortune.

6) 2003 - almost getting electrocuted removing a short-circuiting bar at Barnes (after a suicide) - the conductor rail was still live due to major unrelated cable fire at the adjacent Point Pleasant Substation. ..................... simple bad luck.

7) 2004 - Waterloo throat - Getting disorientated during a partial possession on Sunday AM and as I bent down to eye-up a dipped rail joint on a common crossing, had the very unnerving experience of a set of shogear passing within 2ft of my right ear as a 455 crossed over from the D.Slow to D.Fast  ................................ my error.

8) 2004 - Waterloo throat - getting lost in the thickwork out to West Crossings during a single line T2 possession of the Up Main Relief - being blown up from behind by a very slow moving train approaching on the UF as I was merrily marching back to Waterloo in the wrong line (one line over) - cue humble apologies to the driver ............................................ my error.

9) 2005 - Barnes (again) - Having to step "in front" of an approaching train on the Down Fast because trains on the Up Slow & Up Fast and limited Up cess all combined to put me in shiit creek. Managed to make it look as I had planned to do it. .................... My error.

 

Whist the above sounds a bit like Dangerous Dan - the errors were mistakes not negligence and they served to reduce one's creeping complacency that can develop when working in intensive trafficked area's.

 

That's also ignoring the few times I've managed to step on the conductor rail by accident.

 

Then the Rules changed in 2007 (RIMINI) forcing us to think about what we were doing .....................

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