Network December 2016

Page 1

The magazine for our people

December 2016

04 Family affair: Brothers working on the railway this Christmas


EYE TECH Virtual reality is bringing lineside hazards into focus

Risky business: New approach helps identify road hazards

12 Two tales: Spotlight on suicide prevention

19 One team: Patrick Verwer discusses devolution


CONTRIBUTOR’S WELCOME Andrew Smith, Signaller

I’m four months into my new role and I’m loving it. Being a signaller is a challenging job, especially when something unexpected happens. The trust and communication that I have with the drivers is so important. You can read more about my journey on page 18. Robin Morel, a first responder at suicide sites, and Chris Parker, who tried to take his life on the railway, share their stories on page 12. Gary and Dean Desmond have 60-years’ combined experience working on the railway, and they’ll be among thousands of colleagues who will be working on more than 200 project this Christmas period. You can find out more on page four. Also, on page eight, Brian Doolin explains how virtual reality is helping us identify dangers on the railway, without even going on track. There’s plenty more inside. We hope you enjoy the read.

In the spotlight “Your Voice in action is making a positive impact in teams across the business,” says Smita Patel, employee engagement manager “Since the 2015 Your Voice survey, a lot of improvements have been made across the business; from smaller, continuous improvements to larger changes, which are making Network Rail an even better place to work. “We’ve developed a campaign which will help teams to identify where improvements are being made as a result of their feedback. “If you don’t have a team action plan in place, now is a great opportunity to create one. If you do have an action plan, don’t forget to regularly revisit it. “Your voice really matters – your feedback has the potential to make life at work better every day – and teams that turn that into action are the most engaged across our workforce.” What’s your team’s story? To join the conversation, visit the ‘You Said We Did (Your Voice)’ group on Yammer using #YouSaidWeDid. To find out more visit Connect/YourVoice.

Get in touch: December 2016 View this issue online: Published by: The internal communications team and beetroot. Network is a carbon neutral publication printed on Cocoon Silk (130gsm) 100% recycled stock. Do your bit and recycle Network.



On the cover: Virtual reality is bringing lineside hazards into focus. Read the full story on page eight.

See page 08-10

Disclaimer: Photography featured in Network has been specially commissioned and undertaken in a place of safety. Always be aware of your surroundings and do your part in making sure you and your colleagues get Home Safe Every Day.




NETWORK KNOWLEDGE What’s making news across the business

VTS introduced

The first Vehicle Telematics System (VTS) was fitted in Network Rail fleet vehicles in December to improve driver safety on the roads. VTS will give drivers real-time feedback via an in-car display, letting them know if they are speeding and encouraging them to change their driving behaviour. Find out more on Safety Central.

Breaking down barriers

Professor Peter Hansford is to chair an independent review into breaking down the obstacles to competition in all elements of project delivery. This follows chief executive Mark Carne’s speech at The Future of Rail conference in London, where he pledged his commitment to removing any barriers in all elements of delivering projects. Mark said: “We have to open our doors, cut through the red tape and look for new ways of delivering a better railway for a better Britain. “This will further encourage our own teams to innovate and push aside the barriers holding them back.”

Happy birthday: London Bridge station is celebrating its 180th anniversary with a pop-up exhibition. Break the ice: The Network Rail Weather Service has developed a tool that can accurately forecast the likelihood of ice build-up on overhead line equipment, giving teams the chance to tackle it before it causes delays. Top of the tracks: London Waterloo remains Britain’s’ busiest station as its £800 million upgrade continues.

One team

Chris Grayling, the Secretary of State for Transport, has announced a plan to bring the management of tracks and trains closer together. New arrangements will start as and when franchises for running the trains come up for renewal. Introducing the changes as a process of evolution and not revolution, Mr Grayling said: “The entire network is run by decent hard-working people who feel passionately about the services they operate. “Whether it’s planning essential repairs, putting in place improvements that can squeeze

an extra service in on a crowded route, or responding quickly to a problem on the network, our railway is much better run by one team of people.” Mr Grayling also announced the set-up of ‘East West Rail’ - Britain’s first integrated rail operation for decades and a separate organisation to Network Rail. Its main task will be accelerating the permissions needed to reopen the Oxford to Cambridge route, and secure private sector involvement to design, build and operate the route.

>>> Read these articles in full, plus more, on Connect and Connect Mobile <<<





Christmas with the Desmonds Meet the brothers working through the festive season

With an impressive 60 years clocked-up on the railway between them, the Desmond brothers are railway through and through. Fathers of five grown-up daughters, both have spent their entire careers providing a faster and fitter railway, never flicking an eyelid to being on track on the days that many count as precious family time. This year Gary will be working his 16th-consecutive Christmas. As project manager of the overhead-line conditions renewal team (OCR), he’ll be working on the Great Eastern Main Line over the 10-days of Christmas. He said: “I’ll be overseeing the complete renewal of overhead wires for electrification on the Great Eastern overhead-line renewal project at Gidea Park. This will involve 12 wire-runs over the 10-days of Christmas. “It’s just normal now working over Christmas. The trains aren’t running so we get unrestricted access to the railway, meaning we get more done in a DECEMBER 2016

matter of days than we would in a matter of weeks of possessions. “We just accept it and our families understand.” Dean, construction manager for the Wessex Capacity Alliance, will be working on the Waterloo platform upgrade. He said: “Without the maintenance and the effort we put in there wouldn’t be a railway to run. “My kids are older now and they’ve always understood – there’s never been an issue.” The brothers will be working numerous days over the Christmas period, including Christmas Eve night and Christmas Day night. “On Christmas Day I’m looking forward to getting home and having a couple of hours sleep before spending the afternoon with my wife and children,” said Dean. Both try to bring the festive spirit to work during the Christmas period. Gary said: “Me and the team go out for a Christmas celebration a few weeks before the work begins.”


Dean says his team will mark Christmas in some way, possibly mince pies in the canteen area. When asked what attracted them to the railway in the first place, Gary said: “It’s stable and regular work and no two days are the same. One day we’re working on track, then we’re in the middle of nowhere, and the next day in a city.” Dean added: “There’s never a dull moment; there’s lots of different things to see and do.” n

“ Without the maintenance and the effort we put in there wouldn’t be a railway to run” NETWORK



St Pancras International’s Amaluna Christmas Tree by Cirque du Soleil in partnership with Oxfam. The Amaluna show heads to London’s Royal Albert Hall this January


projects are being delivered over the holiday period.


larger pieces of work are planned for bank holidays with 50 per cent fewer passengers travelling by rail.

Crossrail West:

There will be remodelling of the west end of Maidenhead Station and critical points installations at Stockley and Hayes, and on the Old Oak Common and Paddington approaches.

Crossrail East:

Track, signalling and overhead line work will be happening as part of the Crossrail project in and around the Shenfield area.

Northern Hub:

Enhancements continue with new track, bridges and overhead line equipment being installed.

Do you hear what I hear? Listen out on Absolute, Heart and Heart SX local radio for Gary’s voice coming across the airwaves. Gary was picked to be the voice of South East and London route’s ‘Check Before You Travel’ campaign. For the first-time ever, colleague voices have been used for the campaign. Gary said: “I’m over the moon I was chosen. I’ll be representing all the front liners in Anglia this Christmas. It’s important to have our voice heard as we are the ones out on track in all weather at all times of year.”





“ Have I reduced my speed?”

“ Where is that ball going to bounce?”

“ That dog is not under control”

“ Has this limit just changed?”

“ Is the cat about to make a dash?”


Risk-based commentary is helping make teams safer on the road There have been more than 600 unsafe road acts among Network Rail’s workforce in the past year. That’s 600 times that one of our colleagues put their lives – and others – at risk of serious harm while driving. Speeding, mobile phone use and not driving to road conditions are just some of dangers that can be avoided. The company’s Lifesaving Rules are there for a reason – to get everyone home safe, every day. Rupert Lown, head of occupational safety strategy, said: “We have seen a DECEMBER 2016

dramatic decrease in the frequency of unsafe road acts this summer, during which the Safety Stand Down took place and people from across the business took time out to focus on safe driving. “In the four months since the stand down, there has been a 40 per cent reduction in speeding incidents. “Every one of us has the responsibility to ensure this reduction continues. Every one of us can, and must, be a safety leader – working together to prevent deaths, accidents and injuries from happening.”


Rising to the challenge

The Anglia health and safety team is using a technique called ‘risk-based commentary’. It helps people become more aware of risks by verbalising hazards they see around them, while driving with an instructor. Brian Doolin, health and safety advisor from Romford delivery unit, said: “I recently completed an investigation for a speeding offence and thought riskbased commentary could help the colleagues involved become more aware of their surroundings. “They were asked to complete a NETWORK


“ Is that rider expecting me to brake?”

“ I’ll need to put my sun visor down soon”

“ I’ll need to slow down for those works”

“ Will the cyclist swerve the puddle?”

“ Has that driver seen me coming?”

“ That chap will need extra time to cross”

“This pothole could damage the suspension”

three-mile drive and after the journey I asked them to name the risks they had spotted – they only managed to name two. “I explained how risk-based commentary could help and asked them to make the same journey again using the method. They managed to name a page worth of hazards.”

Becoming risk aware

One of the participants said: “On the second journey we became more aware of the risks that we previously didn’t notice or think about. NETWORK

“These included vehicles pulling out, pedestrians, signage, cameras, road layouts, speed limits and road markings. “Using risk-based commentary really made a difference as we were more visually aware of the threats we face and our poor driving habits. We’ll continue to use this method and let others know of the technique and its benefits.” Mark Carne, chief executive, added: “Our people are our most valuable asset. Nothing is more important than their


safety and wellbeing. When it comes to it the only thing stopping a colleague from making a life-changing mistake, like driving without a seat belt on or pushing the speed limit, could be the person sat next to them. “We’re also committed to decreasing the safety risk for all other motorists too. What we do in those moments can be life-changing and we must all commit to supporting each other to follow the Lifesaving Rules.” n DECEMBER 2016


VIRTUALLY SAFE Virtual reality is helping prepare for site risks ahead of track work





Brian Doolin was introduced to virtual reality when looking to buy a house. He was given a virtual tour of a property and it felt so real that as he approached a bannister in the virtual house, he felt like he was going to fall over. At that moment he realised that this technology could help improve safety on the railway. His aim is to improve risk awareness and to allow people to experience real track environment hazards in a virtual world without putting them at risk. Using virtual reality headsets people can spot site risks before they go out on track. Brian, a workforce health and safety advisor at Romford Delivery Unit, approached VisTech studios, the company that is now producing 360-degree videos of specific scenarios at various track locations. “People can experience first-hand the dangers associated with the railway,

including passing trains, access points and hazardous items that could lead to slips, trips and falls, in a safe environment,” said Brian. “In addition to safety and training benefits, this state-of-the-art technology also allows us to visualise our sites to plan works. Its potential is endless.”

View the future

The headset is being used on the Anglia route, and Stephen O’Connell, infrastructure maintenance delivery manager at Romford DU and Gavin Scott, infrastructure maintenance engineer, have been supporting Brian’s project from the start. Gavin said: “For training, virtual reality creates a lineside environment that is completely safe but feels real, and it’s more powerful than a mission room because it’s fully immersive.” Continued overleaf >>

Example views of the virtual reality track. Users must spot all hazards before the video highlights them as part of their training NETWORK




is y t li a e r l a u t ir V “ l than u f r e w o p e r o m a mission room ll y u f ’s t i e s u a c e b immersive.” Gavin Scott trains passing to simulate a real track environment. “So far, more than 80 people have tried the virtual track experience and we’ve received very positive feedback. The next step will be to install elevated 360 cameras in certain areas of the railway to provide live feeds. These will show people what is happening out on the railway in order to get familiarised with an area from the safety of a meeting room ahead of starting track work.” n

“For colleagues, virtual reality will give teams the opportunity to look at access points where there may be complex junctions or infrastructure and assess the risks in the area before getting on site. Currently, we have to go on track and evaluate the risks in a live environment. With virtual reality we’ll be able to get a 360-degree view of the railway and plan ahead in a risk-free way. “This is the future and the way that the company should be going.”

The next dimension

Jake Elies (pictured left), director of VisTech studios, explained: “We’ve produced 360-films for 16 different access points and 14 sites to train people on hazard awareness. All films show a real lineside section where people wearing the headset will see a countdown, by the end of which they should have identified all the hazards. Once the countdown gets to zero, the risks – scrap rail, cables, vegetation, other discarded objects – are highlighted and people can evaluate how well they did in spotting them. “The advantage is that people can walk and turn around to explore the virtual area, which is something they can’t do in a mission room. This is closer to the real experience of being on track, because the films even have DECEMBER 2016

Steady improvement “The rail industry is a high-risk industry that historically saw multiple fatalities each period. Progress has improved significantly over the past 10 years and our safety performance is steadily improving. But we have more to do. Our most prolific risk of injury involves slips, trips and falls, and manual handling.” Graham Hopkins (pictured), group safety, technical and engineering director, giving evidence to the transport select committee inquiry into rail safety.



Talking Business


U Businse this Ta lkin es in yous supplemg r r team egular ent briefi ng


Public performance measure Welcome to Talking Business – the team briefing guide for everyone in the organisation. It’s included with every issue of Network magazine and available on Connect and Connect Mobile. Each month the Talking Business team brief will focus on one of Network Rail’s scorecard measures and ask ‘how can you make a difference?’ Our corporate scorecard (right) shows us how we are doing against our targets for the year. Using it to discuss how we can be better every day can really make a difference to our performance. Additional information and materials for line managers is on connect/talkingbusiness. Mark Carne, chief executive, said: “Talking Business is about having

a quality conversation, as a team, to understand how you can focus on the most important improvements you can make together to be safer at work and to improve performance.”

THIS ISSUE’S TOPIC: Public performance measure

Public performance measure (PPM) is a locally-driven metric on Network Rail’s scorecard and gives the percentage of all passenger train journeys that run and arrive on time (within 10 minutes for long distance trains, within five minutes for others). See inside and page four of this section.

How to use Talking Business: 1. The centre-spread is the focus for your discussion. A copy of this pull-out can be electronically displayed for the team 2. At the start of the meeting, line managers should nominate a team member to make a note of the discussion and, at the end of the session, send in the team’s response to question four 3. The featured topic should be introduced and the team then discuss questions one to four in the centre-fold 4. The team’s response to question four should be submitted by the date requested. The best examples will be highlighted on Connect.


Scorecard metric: Public Q1:What is PPM? How do we use this measure?

Q2:Why is it important? Trains need to run, and on time. What can affect that?

Q3:How are we doing?

What are the key issues that are causing longer delays?


performance measure INF MORE ORM ATIO Log N talk on to co in nn d own gbus e in ct/ lo and ad usef ess to ul gu tool s brie for you ides fing r s


Q4: What can my team do to make a difference and be better every day? We will:

--------------------------------------Write your answer here.

--------------------------------------Manager name and contact number.


Send your team’s response... Nominate one team member to share your response by Friday 13 January, using one of the following:

Go to Connect: Enter your response directly on the page at connect/talkingbusiness Email: Type out your response and send to

The best of these will be highlighted as best practice. PUBLIC PERFORMANCE MEASURE 03

Talking Business

Public performance measure (PPM) is a locally-driven metric on Network Rail’s scorecard and gives the percentage of all passenger train journeys that run and arrive on time (within 10 minutes for long distance trains, within five minutes for others). Journeys that don’t run to time are analysed as to why, with any recordable incidents (typically creating three-plus minutes of delay) attributed, which are split into three sections: • Network Rail (eg track and signal failures, ‘acts of god’, weather and railway suicides) • Delays caused by an affected Train Operating Company (TOC) themselves – eg driver shortages and train failures etc. • TOC on TOC (TOC delays caused by another TOC). Between 50 and 60 per cent of PPM failures are attributed to Network Rail. Delays are measured in minutes and Network Rail calculates the delay minutes by all trains affected by a single incident, including the effect of the delay across the network after the initial incident is resolved. PUBLIC PERFORMANCE MEASURE 04

The price of success

There are more trains on the railway than ever before and significantly more passengers. The consequences of this success is that there is more congestion, and so delays have a much further and immediate reach across the network. Faults do happen and can be fixed quickly by colleagues on the front line, but once the trains start moving again the effect can last for hours. Typical incidents that can affect PPM and cause delays: • Signalling system and power supply failures • Overhead line equipment/third rail faults • External fatalities and trespass • Track circuit failures • Track faults • External causes (train operator) • Technical fleet delays • Signalling faults • Train crew causes • Station delays • Level crossing failures

Must win

Trains today are more reliable, the infrastructure is more reliable, but the delay for each incident is getting longer and longer and this is the place where we need to work together, with the train operating companies to focus on how can we, more quickly, recover the railway and get it back into operation. Consider these issues: • Access to the railway • Time to site/Time to fix • Relationships across the industry • Service recovery • Poor prediction and prevention of incidents • The culture and behaviours needed to improve.


TOPPINGTHETRACK LIST Network Rail is a world-leader in measuring and managing cyclic top faults Robert Ampomah, safety, technical and engineering (STE) reliability improvement manager track and lineside, sheds some light on these costly dips.

What are cyclic top faults and what causes them?

Cyclic top faults are a series of evenlyspaced dips in the track often caused by bad drainage, poor ballast conditions and associated with impact from freight trains. Empty or unevenly-loaded freight trains can often bounce up and down on the track, causing the ballast to move and little dips being created as the train hits weak points along the track.

Why is it important to fix them?

Cyclic top faults are the single biggest cause of temporary speed restrictions (TSRs) on the rail network. In the past 18 months alone we have seen the highest number of TSRs in eight years, with the cause of the increase associated with cyclic top faults. TSRs of 30mph for freight trains are imposed when three or more consecutive dips are found by Network Rail’s fleet of

Cyclic top faults along the track

track measurement vehicles. Each time a freight train travelling at normal speed comes into contact with a dip or weak point on the track, it could create another dip, which if left untreated, could result in further consecutive dips, potentially leading to freight train derailments.

What impact do they have on the network?

They mainly affect freight vehicles because of their suspension stiffness, however in Britain, because we run a mix of freight and passenger trains on most of our tracks, a slowing freight service can slow down passenger services.

How are we addressing them?

We’ve implemented clearer controls to minimise the risk of incidents following derailments in Gloucester and at Heworth, in Gateshead. A national TSR summit group has helped to increase focus by conducting robust and sustainable repairs, along with regular reviews on all routes in collaboration with train operators. We’ve also increased the frequency of track measurement to every four weeks across most of the network, using our fleet of measurement trains. This will help to provide us with good data that will support our maintenance regimes towards a more proactive approach to repairs. These controls have resulted in no freight derailments due to cyclic top faults in the past two years.

Are there any other projects coming up?

STE and asset information services are working with Balfour Beatty to create a predictive report produced from data from our measurement trains. This will aim to make us aware of cyclic top faults earlier, instead of waiting for three actionable dips to appear. This will make us more proactive in fixing the track ahead of imposing a TSR or a derailment happening. n NETWORK





Two colleagues, one who tried to take his life on the railway and one who has been first response at suicide sites, share their experiences of suicide prevention DECEMBER 2016




Over the past year there have been 253 suicides on Britain’s railway. That’s 12 per cent fewer than the previous year. While the decrease in incidents is good news, suicides continue to impact railway colleagues emotionally, delay customer journeys and cost the industry millions of pound each year. Robin Morel, local operations manager on the East Midlands route, looks after the line from London St Pancras to Bedford. He said: “I’ve been on the railway for 28 years and I’ve attended too many fatalities – I don’t count them anymore but I know it’s into double figures. “When there’s an incident on the line, the first person to receive a call is the signaller via an emergency call, then that’s passed on to the mobile operations managers and to us, the local operations managers. So my timeline at an incident starts when the suicidal person’s timeline unfortunately ends.

Often forgotten

“When we get to the track the first thing we have to do is make the scene safe so that the emergency services can deal with the incident. Then we can take care of the welfare of the train crew and any witnesses. “Signallers are often forgotten in these situations. They answer the initial emergency call when the driver is distraught and that trauma is passed to the signaller. “Front line and operational staff on

Nine-point plan

Ian Stevens, programme manager, Suicide Prevention, said: “Suicides on the railway are tragic events for all concerned; staff, passengers and the loved ones of the deceased alike. The industry continues to work together to find new ways of reducing the risk of suicides occurring. The latest initiative is to have all our industry stakeholders adopt a common strategy for their reduction through what has become known as the nine-point plan, which will be available on Connect. “However there is no substitute – as Robin says – for approaching someone who is in obvious distress on the railway and asking if they’re OK.”


the ground are doing the Samaritans’ managing suicidal contacts training. Now we’re introducing it to signallers during their safety briefs to prepare them for those emergency calls.” Chris Parker, operational planner based in Milton Keynes, promotes mental health awareness in Network Rail. He knows more than most about what goes on in a suicidal persons mind, and hopes that sharing his experience will help prevent tragedies on the railway. Chris said: “A series of events pushed me over the edge and it was like a computer programme running in my mind with the only goal of jumping in front of a train. It’s a feeling as though you’re on a path but you don’t really know what you’re doing. “The only thing that stopped me was that there were works on the railway and due to a temporary speed restriction, there were no fast trains. This interrupted my state of mind and prevented me from going ahead, and it shows that it’s possible, even when someone is as close as I was, to reach out and help them change their mind.”

Dangerous misconceptions

Robin said: “Physical mitigation measures like barriers, Samaritans’ posters and yellow lines on platforms are installed at stations for the same reason – to disrupt suicidal thinking and give people a chance to get out of that state of mind. “In April I attended a fatality. The


person involved was a well-known barrister who had a wife and two kids. I found it really hard to understand why he had chosen to take his own life. “There’s a dangerous misconception that if someone appears to be successful it can’t happen to them. But that’s misguided because mental health doesn’t discriminate.” Chris added: “People who take their lives don’t want to harm others, but they’re in a situation where they can’t appreciate the impact their death will have on those involved in it.” Robin said: “It takes a lot of courage for people like Chris to share their stories, and the main message we want to put out there is that if colleagues see someone in distress close to the railway, to approach them and talk to them. That could potentially save a life.” n

HERE TO HELP Samaritans can listen to colleagues who have been affected by a railway incident in any way. Free number: 116 123



A bridge to the future

New technology that’s raising the roof when it comes to modernising the railway With an estimated 500 masonry arch bridges over lines that are due to undergo electrification upgrades, Network Rail is trialling brandnew technology that could save these old and often heritage structures. A bridge-jacking system was recently trialled on a mothballed section of the East-West Rail route between Bicester and Bletchley. The first-of-its-kind technology, provided by Freyssinet, lifted a disused 160-year-old masonry arch bridge 900mm in less than six hours. The reason; to make way for electrification works without demolishing the bridge. Jane Osayimwen, project manager, said: “Previously this electrification work DECEMBER 2016

would have meant a six-week possession of the track to dig up, lower and relay it. “The rail electrification programme will improve journey experience and reliability. Yet approximately 25 per cent of the cost of electrification is due to providing enough clearance for overhead lines. “The bridge-jacking technology not only saves time and money but reduces passenger disruption as well. It’s definitely a win-win for all.”

Electrifying solutions

This trial came about thanks to an industry callout for solutions. The Avoidance of Bridge Reconstruction Project was developed by Network Rail,


How to lift a bridge 1 The 220-tonne bridge was jacked 900mm using 10 50-tonne jacks 2 As the jacks lifted, hardwood timber was inserted beneath to support the bridge each time the jack retracted – constant monitoring verified that the arch was behaving as predicted 3 The arch was then lowered to 435mm higher than the starting position 4 The gap where the bridge had been lifted was flooded with concrete to restore permanent support.



Jacking skywards

Jane Osayimwen, project manager

Three thinking The callout has seen three other innovative ideas surface which could save Network Rail, and the rail industry, time and money: Dgauge PanSpace software calculates the headroom needed for electrification to take place without the need for bridge demolition. To do this, it considers the forces acting on a train and the contact wire, the effect of track maintenance and deterioration, and the electrical clearance required by domestic and European standards. The software has been tested at Network Rail’s Rail Innovation and Development Centre (RIDC) with a trial due early next year.

Initial lift stage of 300mm

AECOM has proposed lowering the track and using a layer of asphalt as a subballast layer. Asphalt acts as a stiffer beam and gives better structural support to the track bed. The project team is currently developing the asphalt track bed that will form the blueprint for trials on Network Rail infrastructure. This is currently scheduled for the end of 2016. Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB) and the Department for Transport (DfT) to meet the challenges associated with clearance problems involving bridges where electrification is to be installed. Mark Benton, lead project manager RSSB, said: “We are delighted that this collaboration has yielded a successful outcome and has resulted in a world first.” NETWORK

Where clearances are too tight, there are three possible options: lower the track under the structure, lift the structure, or rebuild the bridge - which is the most costly option. Following its successful trial, the final findings report of the Freyssinet bridge-jacking innovation is due out later this month, with a view to rollout the technology next year. n


Electren UK has developed a panel that goes inside the bridge to provide electrical insulation. The material and installation costs will be assessed during the demonstration of this prototype, which is anticipated to take place next year. The panels are removable for inspections and maintenance.



WARNING SIGNS A new alarm system is in place to alert colleagues to potential hazards

In 2004 four colleagues, Colin Buckley, Darren Burgess, Gary Tindall and Chris Waters, were killed while working in a possession when a faulty trailer ran away at Tebay in Cumbria. Six others were seriously injured. Since the tragedy, those involved, along with members of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT), have campaigned to put in place a solution that means history never repeats itself.

New system

The Vortok system gives workers a visual and audible warning should a runaway vehicle approach them – giving them time to get out of harm’s way. This is triggered by a treadle attached to the track 200 metres in advance of the workgroup. This additional layer of protection is to be used in a possession where

teams are working downhill from plant that could potentially run away. Network Rail has worked with the supply chain to develop and refine the design, which led to successful trials in Carlisle a year ago. Guidance on how and when the kit should be used has been agreed and rolled out.

Honouring colleagues

Jonjo Carruthers, maintenance manager, remembers the Tebay incident only too well. He said: “We’ve never stopped pushing for a solution, and we’ve done this for the families of the colleagues we lost. There have been some very similar incidents since Tebay where other people could have been killed, and so far we’ve been very lucky. “When we met with Mark Carne and told him our story, something clicked, and we got the extra support we needed. We

were never going to give up. We couldn’t.” Mark Carne, chief executive, added: “When I met those involved in the Tebay incident, their passion to honour their colleagues by making our railway safer really hit me. It shouldn’t have taken this long to help them make this happen, but I’m really pleased this is now being done. “I am immensely proud of the team at Carlisle and their determination to protect others. Colin Buckley, Darren Burgess, Gary Tindall and Chris Waters may be gone, but this work means they will never be forgotten.”

Local champions

Dave Allen, project manager, explained the plan: “We’ve now got champions in every route who have built implementation plans based on local needs. Kits are now in place and being used across the country.” n

“I am immensely proud of the team at Carlisle and their determination to protect others. Colin Buckley, Darren Burgess, Gary Tindall and Chris Waters may be gone, but this work means they will never be forgotten.” Mark Carne





How does the Vortok system work?

An alarm box is positioned near the people working on the line downhill from the potential hazard (such as a trailer). The alarm box gives an audible and visual warning if triggered, creating a ten second opportunity for workers to move to safety. A set of cables connects the alarm box to a treadle fixed to the railway tracks near the potential hazard. A runaway triggers the treadle, and the alarms fire.





Catching up with

Mr Smith The former voice of Birmingham New Street shares the new chapter of his railway story

Aston signal box sits next to a section of track that it doesn’t control, which strikes Andrew Smith, recently qualified signaller, as odd. “I look after a line that’s two miles away, so some of these trains are mine,” he says, pointing at the window. “But most of them are controlled from Birmingham New Street signal box. I take over the line at Aston, which is the next train station.” Having finished his school training in May, Andrew came to Aston signal box for some on-site training with a fellow signaller. “With him, I learned more about line blockages and engineering possessions as you don’t get to see them for real at school. You can only fully experience them in a signal box. “At the Rail Operating Centre they try to simulate the real thing but you can’t fully appreciate it until you’re here. Now I’m dealing with real people, real lives. You can’t make a mistake: the people in all these trains and the people out on track depend on the signaller to keep them safe.” DECEMBER 2016

From the voice of the station to the eyes of the railway

Andrew left Birmingham New Street to be trained to become a signaller. “I interviewed several times for signalling jobs and it took a few attempts to pass the tests to be accepted in the training programme, but I made it and I’m very happy about it,” he says. “I was concerned that the isolation and the strict regulations of the signal box would be too much for me, but I’ve been formally on the job for four months now and I love it. I’ve taken to it like a duck to water. “I’ve already had some challenging shifts. By my fourth or sixth shift I had to operate trains on the wrong direction against the flow of traffic because there was a problem at Aston with the overhead line equipment. “I had to direct trains to their closest station to allow people to get off, because the last thing you want is people stuck in trains in the middle of nowhere. “Communication and trust is key for this job and especially when these irregular things happen: I have to trust


a driver when they tell me their train has come to a stand and won’t move, and the next driver has to trust me that I’ll take them to their destination safely. In cases like this, I have lead responsibility.” n

Sound and vision

Andy was the voice of Birmingham New Street station for 25 years, from November 1990 to April 2016, before changing track on his railway story to become a signaller. Read more about his story in the May 2016 issue of Network magazine. network_may2016

Andy or Bobby?

“Drivers call us bobbies, it’s a colloquial term that dates back to when we used to use flags to signal. If a train has stopped next to the box, the driver will say ‘alright Bob, how are you?’”




Fast facts

One team

Routes will now be able to approve:

London Midland’s Patrick Verwer explains what he expects from Network Rail through devolution Changes are afoot at Network Rail as the process of devolution continues across the business. As the company evolves, routes are establishing more authority over their local decisions, to work closer with train and freight operating companies. And it couldn’t come at a better time too, according to Patrick Verwer, managing director, London Midland. At this year’s leadership conference Patrick said: “I want Network Rail to move away from this supplier/customer principle because we’re one team and we’re perceived to be one company by the public, delivering one service for our end customers – passengers.”

One company

“As long as the constraint of ‘we’ve got a supply chain’ and ‘you’re our customer so what do you want us to do?’ remains, we’re really missing a trick.


“It’s not about that, it’s about working very closely together, virtually as one company and collectively having the customer in mind. That’s what we need to focus on.” At the conference in November, Patrick said: “Network Rail talks about devolution but when push comes to shove I can’t really do a deal or get to an agreement with my partner, Martin Frobisher, London North Western route managing director, without him having to go through panels and committees I’ve never heard of.”

Step in the right direction

At the end of November it was announced routes will now take on more financial responsibilities and accountabilities as part of Network Rail’s transformation plan. As Martin Frobisher explained: “There have been significant changes designed


98 per cent of renewals projects (previously 83 per cent), giving greater autonomy of investment decisions aligned to route priorities 99 per cent of purchase orders (previously 95 per cent) allowing faster approvals and payments where required for critical high-value works 96 per cent of customer contractual claims (previously 72 per cent) Route-specific goods and services contracts, with flexibility in local contracting strategies, while benefiting from national deals where such exist.

to give more powers to routes. That means we can make our own financial choices and respond better and quicker to our partners’ needs. “We now don’t need to refer to a central panel or decision-maker for approval. Instead we can progress the majority of our decisions directly, working closely with people like Patrick. Better for us. Better for customers.” n



PUBLIC PERFORMANCE MEASURE PPM is a locally-driven metric on Network Rail’s scorecard and gives the percentage of all passenger train journeys that run and arrive on time (within 10 minutes for long distance trains, within five minutes for others).

Station delays

Technical fleet delays

Signalling faults

Signalling system and power supply failures

Fatalities and trespass


Train crew causes

Overhead line equipment/ third rail faults

External causes (train operator)

Track faults Level crossing failures

Track circuit failures

BETWEEN 50 AND 60 PER CENT OF PPM FAILURES ARE ATTRIBUTED TO NETWORK RAIL Delays are measured in minutes and Network Rail calculates the delay minutes by all trains affected by a single incident, including the effect of the delay across the network after the initial incident is resolved. A delay in one area of the network can have lasting affects in other areas, delaying other services for hours across Britain.