UK: Safety and standards body RSSB has appointed technical content specialist Mekon to help develop a mobile app which could replace the rail industry’s paper Rule Book. A prototype is to be tested by a sample of railway staff ahead of the planned launch of an industry-wide product in 2017.

The Rule Book sets out the safety critical rules and procedures which must be followed by the 120 000 staff operating Great Britain’s railways. Staff currently receive paper copies or can view the Rule Book on the RSSB website, but RSSB says staff are increasingly equipped with mobile devices to help them do their job and the app would allow the Rule Book to be more easily accessed and updated.

‘Going digital will bring a whole host of benefits in terms of the way users will be able to access Rule Book content’, believes RSSB’s Professional Head of Rail Operations, Gary Portsmouth. ‘It is a potential win-win, where staff have a Rule Book which is easier to use and keep up-to-date, yet which is more cost-effective for the industry as a whole. We’re currently working with people who use the Rule Book to develop the prototype that will influence the final design, thus ensuring we deliver a product that is intuitive and fit-for-purpose, whilst providing the industry with an opportunity to realise other related benefits.’

RSSB said rule books are ‘practically as old as the railways themselves’, with individual railway companies having produced their own before being encouraged to adopt shared and standardised rules in 1876.