Plans to merge British Transport Police in Scotland into Police Scotland have been postponed. This follows ‘recent advice from Police Scotland around the practicalities of a number of issues and timing of implementation, particularly relating to ICT, which have emerged as part of the re-planning exercise commissioned by Scottish Ministers’, said Scottish Government Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf on August 27, adding that the Scottish Government ‘remained committed to the full integration of railway policing into Police Scotland’.
Industry bodies including the Railway Industry Association are supporting a survey by the University of the West of England addressing how to stimulate innovation in the rail sector. The aim is to develop a model that suppliers can embed in their working practices based on learning from each other. It is hoped that a best practice guide can be produced which would assess the opportunities for both small businesses and larger players.
Zonegreen has been awarded a five-year contract to maintain the Depot Personnel Protection System it supplied for the Old Oak Common depot where Bombardier Class 345 EMUs for the Elizabeth Line are maintained. DPPS combines powered derailers, control panels, signalling interfaces and interlockings to protect staff from vehicle movements and electrification hazards. 'A disregard for the upkeep of personnel protection systems can have potentially fatal consequences, but by committing to a long-term servicing contract, Old Oak Common will remain at the forefront of rail safety', said Zonegree Technical Director Christian Fletcher.
The government’s response to the Office of Rail & Road’s draft determination for Periodic Review 2018 was published on August 23. The final determination is scheduled to be published in the autumn.
Network Rail has secured permission enabling contractor VolkerFitzpatrick to build a bridleway bridge on the site of the existing Gun Lane level crossing on the Felixstowe branch. This will allow Network Rail to permanently close six pedestrian crossings in the area.
The additional industry compensation scheme for Govia Thameslink Railway’s Great Northern and Thameslink passengers affected by disruption relating to the introduction of the May timetable is being extended to regular travellers who do not use season tickets. To qualify passengers must have made a minimum of three days’ return travel in any week in the period May 20 to July 28.
Journeycall has been awarded contracts to manage the additional compensation schemes for passengers affected by disruption in northern England.
DfT is seeking views of stakeholders by September 14 on the Rail Safety (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019, a proposed statutory instrument that would be used in the event of no-deal Brexit to amend legislation to maintain the regulatory status quo with respect to the safety regime and ensure services can continue to run unchanged. It includes provisions that would no longer make sense in context, such as references to the UK as a Member State, and provisions that would become redundant such as those relating to safety reports that currently need to be provided to the European Union Agency for Railways.
On August 23 the Rail Accident Investigation Branch released its report into a collision at Frognal Farm user worked crossing in Kent on October 23 2017. There are four recommendations: to improve signage at private crossings and review the concept of authorised users; to change the law covering signage; to improve the safety of private crossings equipped with power operated gate opening equipment; and for Network Rail to review the way in which it collects and maintains data about regular users. The incident ‘has shown up some significant weaknesses in the way that some level crossings have been managed over many years’, said Simon French, Chief Inspector of Rail Accidents. ’In this case, a green button labelled “press to operate crossing gates” created a belief that the gates would only open if it was safe. That was not the case, and the driver of the road vehicle was lucky to escape with his life.’
Journey PAL has been awarded RSSB and Department for Transport funding to develop an app providing disabled passengers and carers with ‘relevant, reliable advice’ on how accessible a specific station is. A trial will cover the West Midlands.
On August 28 the Rail Accident Investigation Branch released its report into a near-miss with track workers at Pelaw North Junction on the Tyne & Wear Metro on February 21. There are five recommendations to operator Nexus covering identifying locations where multiple lookouts are necessary; improving the information available to track workers regarding hazards; improving on-site risk assessments; supporting newly qualified safety critical track staff as they gain experience; and clarifying and strengthening the process that Nexus uses to manage staff on prescription medication.
Network Rail and contractor Taziker are undertaking a £1.6m project to replace 12 sliding bearings under the deck of the three-span steel viaduct over the River Clyde near Uddingston on the West Coast Main Line. A bespoke system of getting the bearings to and from the bridge then onto the structure has been developed using a motorised all-terrain pallet truck and a pulley and rail system to move the old bearings out and the new ones into position. 'Every bridge we work on has its own set of challenges but replacing bearings on this type of structure within the constraints of the railway environment is unique; logistics, engineering, the physical size of the space we have to work in and the sheer weight of the bearings going in and coming out', said NR Programme Manager Jeremy Spence. 'Add to that the element of the unknown in how a century old bridge deck will react to being jacked and how easily, or not, the bearings will be removed, has certainly focussed minds on this task'.