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The Shield





ON THE EDGE LANDSLIDES CAUSED by winter weather meant speedy action was needed to restore services. But it was also a chance for Southern Shield teams to shine, as they proved that safety and performance go hand in hand, despite challenging conditions and a ticking clock. Read the full story on page 4 >>

Hard-working holiday

Ready for take-off

Rail lives







First Person AT THE end of 2015 we injured 36 people so badly that they couldn’t come into work the next day. Last year it was only six people. So why don’t we all sit back and hope everything stays the same while we focus on other more important issues? Because the Southern Shield Safety Leadership Team (SLT) sees nothing more important than getting everyone home safely every day. And they believe that high-performing safety teams are also high-performing delivery teams. For the SLT, it’s not only the right thing to do, it’s also good business. Therefore, it made sense for the SLT to give up a whole day to discuss what the Southern Shield safety priorities for 2020 should be and how we could continue to improve our safety performance.

The Shield This paper is produced for:

Already identified was the need to get better feedback and direct input from the front line, and a front line safety forum has already been set up. Other priority areas identified for 2020 included finding a consistent way of working across all parts of Southern Capital Delivery, track worker safety, our culture, electrical safety, health and wellbeing, and a new area of focus – sustainability. We have lots of new members joining the SLT so it is important that we not only keep the momentum going but also take our new members along with us on this safety journey. The people who work on our railway are amazing and, if we want to be successful, we need to find a way to tap into the wisdom and common sense that our

REVIEW TEAM TO LEAD ON TRACK SAFETY frontline workforce have. Without doubt getting the frontline workforce to lead on safety will make a huge difference; they know what the issues are and how to resolve them and can make a real difference to getting everyone home safe every day. Steve Webber, head of safety and sustainable development for Southern Capital Delivery

Find out how colleagues set about making the railway safe again after wet weather led to embankment failures. See pages 4 and 5.

A SPECIALIST team looking to improve all aspects of safety around lineside and ontrack work has been re-established. Following the Margam fatalities in Wales last year, the Southern Shield Track Access Working Group has been re-formed to review everything from the planning stages to implementation of safe systems of work on the track. It was previously in operation from 2014 to 2016. Members come from across Network Rail and its contractors as well as specialist rail labour agencies, and all have extensive experience of safety critical activities. They also either still hold or have held track safety competencies. SAFETY CRITICAL Following a risk workshop in 2019 with front line track workers, the working group is looking at several key areas including:  Safety critical communication  Safe system of work (SSOW) planning  Current and new technology  Safety culture.

THE PERFECT COME BACK Written and designed by:


Briefings help make a happy and safe return in 2020

THE FESTIVE season may have brought plenty of presents but Back to Work Briefings aimed to ensure there no nasty surprises when returning to railway sites. Thousands of rail colleagues worked over the holiday period but for those who had been away, briefing sessions held across the southern region played a vital role in making it a safe return to work.

Arron Dolan

The SSOW review will including improving information for planners – especially relating to isolations – and reviewing training for SSOW responsible managers. Daren Norris, head of rail assurance for Osborne, who is a member of the group, said: “The ultimate aim of the group is to make sure that everyone who works trackside is working in the safest means of access possible and goes home safe every day.” If you have any ideas of how we can improve safety for track workers contact: shield@networkrail.co.uk

Daren Norris

As well as group and individual face to face meetings, Back to Work Briefings included packs specially designed to bring workers up to speed with any changed that might have taken place in their absence. These include new machinery, revised site layouts, changed access routes or different welfare facilities. One such briefing took place at Feltham in Surrey where a team from Osborne is carrying out extensive access and platform extension work at the station – as featured in The Shield in June last year. Senior project manager Arron Dolan said: “As well as the meeting room briefings we have a physical walk round the site to re-familiarise ourselves. We also have new people on site, so for them it’s an important chance to learn their way around and for everyone to meet each other.” As well as covering factual and physical changes, Arron says the briefings are an opportunity to get people talking and engaging with each other after a break. He added: “The briefing helps encourage an environment where everyone feels comfortable to speak about their work, wellbeing and safety.” Platform and signalling at Felthamstation is now complete, with the bridge expected to be completed later this year.

want us to feature your team? get in touch at shield@networkrail.co.uk




At Ashford, work involved renewal of six point-ends and 118 metres of plain line

The board is designed to be reused

At Sanderstead the fast and slow-line spans of a road bridge were replaced


FOR MORE than 2,000 railway workers the Christmas holiday was one of the busiest times of the year. Around the country there were more than 400 projects underway to help create a more reliable infrastructure and improve services for passengers. Highlights in the southern region included work at three red-rated sites: Ashford International in Kent, Sanderstead in Surrey and Wimbledon in south London. At Sanderstead, near Croydon, the fast and slow-line spans of a road bridge were replaced with new precast concrete structures. The installation involved the use of self-propelled modular transport and the work was carried out during a twopart possession. As well as replacing an ageing asset with one that should last 125-years, the work will increase resistance against bridge strikes and improve track quality.


During a five-day possession at Ashford, work involved renewal of six point-ends and 118 metres of plain line, while at Wimbledon two signalling power transformers were commissioned. Other work in the region included a complex under-track crossing at Dollands Moor freight yard in Folkestone, the final work on the Kent power supply upgrade project and steelwork repairs at Farnham Road bridge in Surrey. As well as being vital to improving customer journeys, the projects all achieved an excellent safety record, with work completed at 50 sites across the region without any injuries. “As a team we made sure everyone got home safely every day throughout the Christmas works period,” said Tim Coucher, southern capital delivery director. “My thanks to everyone for keeping yourselves and your teams safe.”




SLIDE SHOW Short-notice works were delivered without any safety slip-ups during a series of embankment repairs

WHEN PROLONGED wet weather led to several rail embankment failures, swift but safe action was needed to stop the slides and to get freight and passenger services up and running again. The first embankment slip occurred at Ashmead, near Basingstoke in Hampshire in November 2019. It was at a site scheduled for improvement works in February 2020. But the landslip meant the work was brought forward, alongside immediate repairs. A team from Osborne, and specialist design, groundwork, piling, track monitoring and permanent way subcontractors was assembled to manage the complex project. Safe access was one of the most immediate issues. “We had to arrange an emergency road closure with the county council,” said Osborne project manager Derek Rapson. “They understood the magnitude of the problem and that was arranged within a couple of hours.” Another challenge was to get all the safety paperwork done. “You have to do that before you can do anything on site,” added Helen Wills, scheme project manager for Network Rail. “In these situations, we follow a rapid response protocol to ensure the necessary requirements are in place.” EXCLUSION ZONES In total there were over 1,000 vehicle movements, including 430 HGV deliveries, and between 30 and 50 people working around the clock. With such a busy and confined site, and with one line operating at full speed, safe movement of people, plant and materials was a key concern. “We had the advantage of creating two haul roads, one for main plant coming in and another for materials,” said Derek. “We had two piling rigs on site, and people and plant were working very close together. This meant it was even more important to have properly marked walking routes and exclusion zones in place.” Smartphone messaging service WhatsApp also proved a valuable safety tool, speeding up communication and making sure consistent information went to teams instantly. Remote track monitoring and two time-lapse cameras were also installed. The cameras – linked to a system called Site-eye – took and uploaded a photo every five minutes, meaning everyone on the project could log in and see the most recent view of the site, as well as an archive of all the previous images. The closed slow line was re-opened within nine days and the safety measures in place and awareness of the people on site meant that 20,000 hours of work were completed with zero accidents or incidents. “That’s tremendous, considering the number of people and the tight space,” said Derek. “It’s the skill and attitude of everyone on site that makes the difference – people who know the safety culture and who can work quickly but are prepared to stop and re-plan if anything is unsafe.”

“The team were top notch in terms of due diligence and making sure paperwork was in place.” never undertake any job unless you have



SPEEDY AND SAFE Disruption at Epsom and Guildford Sands in Surrey also required a speedy and safe response. At Guildford Sands, rope access specialists and around 20 people on track spent four nights removing 150 tonnes of material to stabilise the bank and enable safe running after a landslip next to a tunnel entrance. “The key safety considerations here were working at height, exclusion zones and ensuring there was enough task lighting to illuminate the area,” said Jas Rupra, package manager for Osborne. As with Ashmead, remote monitoring was installed to provide real-time information about the bank’s condition and to warn of any further movement. RESTRICTED ACCESS At Epsom, an embankment under the Up line just outside the station caused the closure of the line just before Christmas. Restricted access was also an issue here with plant and people close together. The works required using parts of local residential and business properties as well as building an access road. Exclu-

PROPERLY PREPARED “People are working when they would otherwise be at home with their families, so it’s an important safety consideration to make sure people are properly prepared, fit for work and have their minds on the job,” said Jas. “For a job like this you also need people who are ready to go straight away, with the right safety culture already at the front of their mind. That’s where having an engaged supply chain and initiatives like Southern Shield can be really valuable. “What shone out for me with these jobs was that the team were top notch in terms of due diligence and making sure paperwork was in place. Everything that needed to be done was done quickly but without compromising safety.”

At Crowhurst in Surrey, the entire down-side embankment failed over a 150-yard section of track in December. A team from BAM and its partners worked to make sure all the right possessions were in place for rebuilding to start. The line is scheduled to reopen at the end of March.

REMOTE CONTROL Remote track monitoring enables teams to understand how the bank is behaving whether there is any movement on the track next to it. A device is installed on top of the sleepers, which takes readings every second, continually sending data to a central point. Any unusual movement triggers an alarm which alerts the team to any problems.


EPSOM Jas Rupra from Osborne at the site


been trained and assessed as competent

sion zones and segregated walking routes were identified and signposted and a banksman was in place. The project required a complete design, build and track re-installation over the holiday period to make the line safe for the start of the new timetable on 6 January.


The North Downs Line Community Rail Partnership highlighted Network Rail’s excellent response to the Guildford Sands landslip. Maintaining positive relationships with the local community not only reduces complaints but also enhances the reputation of Network Rail and its contractors with the public and passengers.                                   





“On this site we’ve been using the Vac Ex – a machine that excavates ground soil like a big vacuum cleaner. It’s a safer way of excavating because it removes the human element from the work. That’s a big part of it. It basically sucks the ground up so people aren’t in the hole with tools digging and shovelling. I think processes and gadgets are important in improving safety on site, but it’s also down to the individual themselves.”

The Vac Ex in action


The Shield landed at Gatwick and met the team bringing some long overdue improvements to the airport’s railway station

FOR DECADES, people getting off the train to start their holidays have had to struggle with Gatwick Airport’s outdated station. Poor access into the terminal and ever-increasing passenger numbers have meant that escalators, staircases and lifts have become unfit for purpose. But that’s all set to change with a major revamp. Wider platforms, new escalators, lifts and stairways will allow passengers to board and

A breathalyser check ensures everyone is fit to start work

alight trains more quickly. It will mean trains spend less time on platforms, reducing delays and supporting a more reliable service. The aim is to improve passengers’ experiences in every way possible, and these improved facilities will provide smoother and more pleasant journeys. It’s a big job that comes with a lot of pre-planning to ensure everyone – construction workers, airport staff and the public – stays safe throughout, while allowing train services to run.

“It’s important that people can still get to and from the airport while we undertake this work,” said John McGrath, health and safety manager for Costain. “But at the same time we need to ensure working conditions are as safe as possible.” For the Costain team, this includes everyone being aware of their surroundings, listening to briefings and calling Time Out Take Fives when necessary. Morning briefings are held every day and specific site briefings follow as soon as

everyone is about to go onto the tracks or into a work zone. There are also checks to ensure everyone is fit to start work, including a test for alcohol. “It’s a tough limit too,” says John. “We won’t let anyone work if there’s more than a quarter of the legal driving limit on their breath. The breathalyser can detect the amount of alcohol just by being held near someone while they talk, so it does ensure everyone is working with their wits about them.”

Never work or drive while under



“The most important things for keeping everyone safe are understanding each other and good briefings. People need to ask questions too, especially if something isn’t clear. We have very good briefings here and that’s important. They’re never rushed. It’s always made sure that everyone understands what is being discussed.”

When the Southern Shield’s Safety Leadership Team (SLT) met to discuss its strategy for 2020, The Shield caught up with two of its newest members, Mark Howard and Ian Grant



Mark Howard, project director, Costain, Gatwick Airport station project WHAT’S THE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU’VE LEARNED IN YOUR RAIL CAREER? Over my time I’ve learnt that it’s really important to be out on site and talk and listen to the people doing the work. Their views are invaluable as they are the closest to what’s really happening on the ground.

WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT SAFETY DEVELOPMENT OF THE LAST 10 YEARS? The step change in behavioural safety has really improved things. Technology is important too. We can now carry out digital rehearsals to make sure works are properly planned and the risks mitigated.

BARRY CRAIG Lift supervisor

“My job is to ensure the plant is well maintained and that everyone is doing their inspections and following processes properly. We’re a good team here because a lot of us worked together at the London Bridge redevelopment. We’ve been working together for the last six or seven years so there’s been a continuity of safety procedures. Everyone’s got the same mindset and they understand and the importance of maintaining the safety standards, which were very high at London Bridge. We’ve brought that here too.”

WHAT BAD HABIT ARE YOU MOST GLAD TO SEE THE BACK OF? I think there is still more to do here, however people are no longer keeping quiet when something isn’t right. They are much more willing to talk about safety, raise Close Calls, and take action to remove hazards. We need to continue to support that positive culture. Ian Grant, project director, Southern Capital Delivery – Signalling and Track representative WHAT’S THE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU’VE LEARNED IN YOUR RAIL CAREER? I think it’s that front line colleagues expect us to be realistic about the processes and policies that we put in place.

WHAT SAFETY INNOVATION HAVE YOU BEEN MOST PLEASED TO SEE? On a track renewal the method for installing sleepers required people to climb onto the wagon and insert chains to the housings. We now use a hydraulic sleeper bale that grabs the sleepers removing the need for staff to work at height. WHAT BAD HABIT ARE YOU MOST GLAD TO SEE THE BACK OF? Talking on the telephone while driving, even if it’s handsfree. The Safety Leadership Team is responsible for reviewing and agreeing cultural, behavioural and process changes that can be made across the southern region to increase safety.

KIERAN FOGARTY Site engineer

“We have a lot of interface with the public because passengers are still using the station to get to the airport. It’s everyone’s responsibility to make sure they and their colleagues are safe on site, but supervisors and engineers need to ensure processes and rules are followed. We have more safety procedures on this site than I’ve seen on any other – there’s a lot of safety regulations to follow before we can even begin working on the ground.”

the influence of drugs or alcohol

The Safety Leadership Team (left to right): Ian Grant, Gareth White, Steve Walters, Paul Futter, Chris Ottley, Paul Devoy, Mark Howard, Shaun Cooper, Tim Coucher, Duncan Hall and John Dowsett. Not pictured: Martin Chatfield, Duncan Wilkes and Steve Wright.




PLANNING MAKES PERFECT Safety has come a long way since Paul Cross first started work on the railway IN A career spanning almost 30 years, project engineering manager Paul Cross, has seen plenty of changes. His current role has him busy helping the delivery of major upgrade projects across the southern region. He worked on the London Bridge redevelopment, re-signalling works in Hither Green, south-east London, and the delivery of a new workstations at Ashford Integrated Electronic Control Centre (IECC) in Kent. “My first introduction to major projects was in 2000 when I joined the Project Delivery team working out of Waterloo,” he said. “I like the variety of the projects and getting to work on a mix of different technologies.” Paul’s first role on the railway was

in May 1991, when he joined as an assistant technician in the Victoria Area Signalling Centre at Clapham Junction. He then moved into Project Delivery at the start of the new millennium and focused on health and safety including workforce safety which has come on leaps and bounds from his first days on the trackside. “In the 90s I’d go onto the tracks usually with two others,” Paul said. “We’d each look over our shoulders for trains or potential hazards, and we always looked after each other, but that was it.” More people were added to be lookouts in the following years but health and safety on site was very different to what it is now. “These days we have more isolations and an array of procedures to protect

people from moving trains while they work,” he said.“We are under increasing pressure to keep the railway working. It’s important that we can work safely during our work without trains running, but we must finish on time to enable the timetable to start up on time and reliably.” LEARNING AND FEEDBACK One of the biggest changes Paul has seen is the pre-planning of major safety measures. “Lots of work goes into planning our safety processes so that we can be as effective as possible in our time on the track, but doing it all safely,” he said. “This preplanning is vital to safe delivery and involves briefings, communicating with staff and encouraging everyone to take Time Out Take Fives.”

For Paul, constant learning and improvement is of huge importance. “You have to be mindful to accept when something has gone wrong, because then you must learn from it to prevent any further problems,” he said. “We also now have ‘war rooms’ for major blockades. Since we have a limited amount of time to do our work on railway lines, we have whole teams who work out exactly what to deploy when the plan has to change, and to ensure we can deploy the revised plan safely. When I first started, this used to be the responsibility of the staff and their supervisor on the ground without truly understanding the potential impact of the change against the plan,” explained Paul.

A background team that plans and mitigates safety issues means that track-based teams can focus on delivery of the work safely while the decisions are made in a controlled environment for any change of plan. This does not stop the on-site team from undertaking the on-site risk assessment for change or stopping work completely, to ensure everyone can be kept safe at all times. “We are now much better at preempting safety problems and fixing them quickly, so that neither the work nor colleagues are affected,” said Paul. “Regular engagement with onsite teams and feedback from them more important to us now and helps us keep staff safe at all times whilst delivering works efficiently and effectively.”

What do you think? Get in touch – shield@networkrail.co.uk

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The Shield February 2020  

The Shield February 2020