Level crossing Phone to cross but can't speak!

Okowsc

Member
Joined
17 Sep 2018
Messages
8
Hi all,

I'm a semi/mostly non-speaking autistic who uses a tablet to speak most of the time when out now (think loss voice guy but different reasons).

On the 06:08 NOT-PBO on Saturday I passed a station with a notice saying you MUST phone the signaller to get permission to cross and that got me wondering? How exactly would I go about getting permission to cross considering I can't exactly use my device with a railway phone?

(Yes I tweeted NR to ask but haven't got a response yet https://twitter.com/ImAnAutie/status/1395988085985402881 )
 
Sponsor Post - registered members do not see these adverts; click here to register, or click here to log in
R

RailUK Forums

py_megapixel

Established Member
Joined
5 Nov 2018
Messages
4,547
Location
Northern England
When you say you make use of a tablet to communicate: do you mean that the tablet produces audio output (i.e. text to speech) or do you use it as something to write on? If the former, I wonder if the phones are suitably sensitive that you can just hold the tablet to the mouthpiece.

Also, what's the policy if the phone isn't working for some reason? Presumably there must be an alternative mechanism for communicating with the signaller, which you could presumably use if it was more accessible to you
 

Okowsc

Member
Joined
17 Sep 2018
Messages
8
When you say you make use of a tablet to communicate: do you mean that the tablet produces audio output (i.e. text to speech) or do you use it as something to write on? If the former, I wonder if the phones are suitably sensitive that you can just hold the tablet to the mouthpiece.

Also, what's the policy if the phone isn't working for some reason? Presumably there must be an alternative mechanism for communicating with the signaller, which you could presumably use if it was more accessible to you
It does text to speech, but TTS voices can sometimes be hard to hear and from what I hear railway phones aren't always the best audio quality.
 

Highlandspring

Established Member
Joined
14 Oct 2017
Messages
2,779
Also, what's the policy if the phone isn't working for some reason? Presumably there must be an alternative mechanism for communicating with the signaller, which you could presumably use if it was more accessible to you
I can’t speak for the whole network but in Scotland the crossing signage will show an alternate number to contact NR Control and they will make the necessary arrangements to allow the user to cross safely. Once it’s known that the phones are faulty trains will be cautioned until the local Mobile Operations Manager or Level Crossing Manager arrives to provide an alternative means of communication (or lock the crossing out of use, if possible).
 

Okowsc

Member
Joined
17 Sep 2018
Messages
8
I can’t speak for the whole network but in Scotland the crossing signage will show an alternate number to contact NR Control and they will make the necessary arrangements to allow the user to cross safely. Once it’s known that the phones are faulty trains will be cautioned until the local Mobile Operations Manager or Level Crossing Manager arrives to provide an alternative means of communication (or lock the crossing out of use, if possiblele).
Where that's the case I could always do a relay call (I type/hear, a BT operator voices)
 

4F89

Member
Joined
17 Aug 2018
Messages
686
Could you not go with someone and get them to call? Or wait for a passerby?
 

py_megapixel

Established Member
Joined
5 Nov 2018
Messages
4,547
Location
Northern England
Could you not go with someone and get them to call? Or wait for a passerby?
I can't speak specifically for OP in this case, but a lot of people with autistic spectrum disorders - or indeed any other condition or disability - find that if they need to rely upon another person to do something basic, such as walking over a level crossing, it really wrecks their mental health because they feel they don't have basic independence.
 

zwk500

Established Member
Joined
20 Jan 2020
Messages
2,298
Location
Milton Keynes
@Okowsc , are you thinking of this just in general terms or is there a specific crossing you are likely to need regular access across? I'm just thinking that if it's a specific crossing then you can write in advance to NR, telling them where the crossing is and the level crossing manager should be able to discuss what can be done to assist you in using the crossing. See this page: https://www.networkrail.co.uk/communities/safety-in-the-community/level-crossing-safety/

If it's just generally about this style of crossings then a specific solution is unlikely to be available as each crossing will have different considerations, but it's still worth asking the question of NR (both via twitter and the page I've linked to) because it's in the interests of everybody's safety that anybody who uses a crossing is able to use it safely.
 

4F89

Member
Joined
17 Aug 2018
Messages
686
But.... they don't. No offence intended, but if a requirement is to speak to a signaller, and you need help to do that, then you need help! It's not a matter of embarrassing someone, its a basic fact. The tablet can be used to ask for help from the passerby and relayed to the signaller after all!
 

Deafdoggie

Established Member
Joined
29 Sep 2016
Messages
1,730
As a deaf person, phones are troublesome for me! I'd much rather I was with someone and they sorted it all out. However, I've never come across a pedestrian crossing requiring a phone call before? Are these common? I guess there are differences with driving, but the DVLA say I'm OK as I can use a phone "in an emergency situation" which safely crossing a railway is really! It's just the phone call is hard work for both me and the person on the other end! But a pedestrian one is very different as I could be alone and with no other way to get across.
 

The exile

Member
Joined
31 Mar 2010
Messages
475
Location
Somerset
I was aware that there are plenty of crossings where this applies to vehicles - but are there many where this applies to pedestrians?
 

zwk500

Established Member
Joined
20 Jan 2020
Messages
2,298
Location
Milton Keynes
But.... they don't. No offence intended, but if a requirement is to speak to a signaller, and you need help to do that, then you need help! It's not a matter of embarrassing someone, its a basic fact. The tablet can be used to ask for help after all!
But why should that help have to be provided by an in-person carer/helper rather than by, say, adaptive technology? For instance, a text line where the OP could send a request to cross with a location code (given on a sign at the crossing) for the signaller to acknowledge then respond when it's safe to cross.
 

4F89

Member
Joined
17 Aug 2018
Messages
686
But why should that help have to be provided by an in-person carer/helper rather than by, say, adaptive technology? For instance, a text line where the OP could send a request to cross with a location code (given on a sign at the crossing) for the signaller to acknowledge then respond when it's safe to cross.
Because with moving trains, you need direct and instant communication. A text message that may or may not work or go through is not suitable. Especially considering how remote most of these locations are, which is why there are fixed telephones and not a mobile number to call/text

Of course, you could just glance at RTT and make an educated guess? No?

(Note the massive dose of sarcasm at the end)
 

zwk500

Established Member
Joined
20 Jan 2020
Messages
2,298
Location
Milton Keynes
Because with moving trains, you need direct and instant communication. A text message that may or may not work or go through is not suitable. Especially considering how remote most of these locations are, which is why there are fixed telephones and not a mobile number to call/text
Fair point, but then why not a traffic-light style 'push to cross' button at each crossing? It's already done on at least one crossing in East London I believe.
 

miami

Established Member
Joined
3 Oct 2015
Messages
3,016
Location
UK
Deaf people using the crossing are in a similar situation, this user guide states


Private level crossings where telephone operation is required to cross --- We can provide hearing induction loops at private level crossings. Users need to be authorised by Network Rail; our level crossing managers can implement this safety measure. Please contact our National Helpline for more information. You’ll find details on the last page

Contacting the national helpline - either textphone 18001 03457 11 41 41, or "Email us or talk to us via our live help:networkrail.co.uk/contact" - seems to be a good start
 

Okowsc

Member
Joined
17 Sep 2018
Messages
8
@Okowsc , are you thinking of this just in general terms or is there a specific crossing you are likely to need regular access across? I'm just thinking that if it's a specific crossing then you can write in advance to NR, telling them where the crossing is and the level crossing manager should be able to discuss what can be done to assist you in using the crossing. See this page: https://www.networkrail.co.uk/communities/safety-in-the-community/level-crossing-safety/

If it's just generally about this style of crossings then a specific solution is unlikely to be available as each crossing will have different considerations, but it's still worth asking the question of NR (both via twitter and the page I've linked to) because it's in the interests of everybody's safety that anybody who uses a crossing is able to use it safely.
Just a hypothetical after noticing a sign at the end of a station on the mentioned route say it phone to get permission to cross.
 

4F89

Member
Joined
17 Aug 2018
Messages
686
Fair point, but then why not a traffic-light style 'push to cross' button at each crossing? It's already done on at least one crossing in East London I believe.
That is already in place on a lot of the network, so nothing needs introducing through new tech. I imagine this whole convo is from crossed wires anyway
 

zwk500

Established Member
Joined
20 Jan 2020
Messages
2,298
Location
Milton Keynes
That is already in place on a lot of the network, so nothing needs introducing through new tech. I imagine this whole convo is from crossed wires anyway
Good to know, cheers.
Just a hypothetical after noticing a sign at the end of a station on the mentioned route say it phone to get permission to cross.
If it's at a station, would you feel comfortable asking Staff (if any are present)? If not, then as @miami suggests contact the helpline.
 

steamybrian

Established Member
Joined
26 Nov 2010
Messages
1,437
Location
Kent
I was recently at Wool in Dorset where I used a pedestrian footpath crossing which had red or green lights indicating to the user whether or not is was safe to cross.
 

Gloster

Established Member
Joined
4 Sep 2020
Messages
2,372
Location
Up the creek
Could it be at (what my age calls a barrow) crossing at a station which has remotely released gates? I believe that there are few examples of variants of this about.
 

Highlandspring

Established Member
Joined
14 Oct 2017
Messages
2,779
Phones intended for pedestrian users at level crossings are quite unusual but not entirely unheard of. Generally if there is limited sighting for pedestrians the mitigations used are whistleboards and/or miniature red/green lights. Phones are really intended for vehicular users or those crossing with animals onnthe hoof (e.g. sheep, cows, horses etc)

If it's at a station, would you feel comfortable asking Staff (if any are present)? If not, then as miami suggests contact the helpline.
The NR helpline is contracted out to an external call centre company so they can’t deal with stuff in real time, they just take the details, prioritise it and pass it on but that can easily take anything from an hour upwards to get to the right people.
 

miami

Established Member
Joined
3 Oct 2015
Messages
3,016
Location
UK
A crossing near me is on a public bridleway, it is also a farm crossing. There's a telephone, and from memory an instruction to use the phone if crossing with animals - i.e. if you're moving a herd of sheep. That doesn't apply to people crossing on their own, and presumably crossing with a dog (and there are other crossings nearby which don't have a phone), I'm not sure if horse riders have to use the phone or not to cross, and if they do what happens if they can't use the phone.


This specific user
The NR helpline is contracted out to an external call centre company so they can’t deal with stuff in real time, they just take the details, prioritise it and pass it on but that can easily take anything from an hour upwards.

I was thinking more of asking them for advice on what to do in a situation, however it does sound like this crossing may be a barrow crossing for use only be station staff so rather moot.
 

Tomnick

Established Member
Joined
10 Jun 2005
Messages
5,586
Could it be at (what my age calls a barrow) crossing at a station which has remotely released gates? I believe that there are few examples of variants of this about.
Yes, given the route stated, I'm sure that it'll be exactly this. Both Melton and Stamford have gates released from the box (which requires a phone call to the signalman) for the barrow crossings. They're not limited to being used by or with staff - the whole point of the remote release is to allow step-free access to the further platform when the station's not staffed! There is, in both cases, a footbridge available for those who are able to use it - whilst that makes it less likely that this problem will present itself, of course, it's still not entirely implausible!
 

Okowsc

Member
Joined
17 Sep 2018
Messages
8
A crossing near me is on a public bridleway, it is also a farm crossing. There's a telephone, and from memory an instruction to use the phone if crossing with animals - i.e. if you're moving a herd of sheep. That doesn't apply to people crossing on their own, and presumably crossing with a dog (and there are other crossings nearby which don't have a phone), I'm not sure if horse riders have to use the phone or not to cross, and if they do what happens if they can't use the phone.


This specific user


I was thinking more of asking them for advice on what to do in a situation, however it does sound like this crossing may be a barrow crossing for use only be station staff so rather moot.
Yep your probably right after googling pretty sure I'm thinking off the station crossing at Melton, was a bit distracted by an issue with the TM to pay enough attention to notice it wasn't for public to use by themselves.
 

alxndr

Member
Joined
3 Apr 2015
Messages
958
Also, what's the policy if the phone isn't working for some reason? Presumably there must be an alternative mechanism for communicating with the signaller, which you could presumably use if it was more accessible to you
The regular telephone number for the signaller should be available for use if the direct dial phone isn't working—only of any use if you have a mobile and can make telephone calls of course. I don't know of anywhere which has any method of contacting the signaller which doesn't require spoken communication.
 

py_megapixel

Established Member
Joined
5 Nov 2018
Messages
4,547
Location
Northern England
The regular telephone number for the signaller should be available for use if the direct dial phone isn't working—only of any use if you have a mobile and can make telephone calls of course. I don't know of anywhere which has any method of contacting the signaller which doesn't require spoken communication.
No, but if there is a phone number then a relay call can be used.
 

thenorthern

Established Member
Joined
27 May 2013
Messages
3,861
Hi all,

I'm a semi/mostly non-speaking autistic who uses a tablet to speak most of the time when out now (think loss voice guy but different reasons).

On the 06:08 NOT-PBO on Saturday I passed a station with a notice saying you MUST phone the signaller to get permission to cross and that got me wondering? How exactly would I go about getting permission to cross considering I can't exactly use my device with a railway phone?

(Yes I tweeted NR to ask but haven't got a response yet https://twitter.com/ImAnAutie/status/1395988085985402881 )

That is a very good question, I have Aspergers and ADHD (As well as many other conditions) and went to a special school where many of the students were unable to talk. I learnt basic sign language to speak to a friend of mine which in this instance would not be a useful way to communicate.

Your should contact Network rail and ask them what they do in that situation as they are required to make reasonable adjustments.
 

jopsuk

Veteran Member
Joined
13 May 2008
Messages
12,632
Hi all,

I'm a semi/mostly non-speaking autistic who uses a tablet to speak most of the time when out now (think loss voice guy but different reasons).

On the 06:08 NOT-PBO on Saturday I passed a station with a notice saying you MUST phone the signaller to get permission to cross and that got me wondering? How exactly would I go about getting permission to cross considering I can't exactly use my device with a railway phone?

(Yes I tweeted NR to ask but haven't got a response yet https://twitter.com/ImAnAutie/status/1395988085985402881 )
I can guarantee they absolutely had not thought about this, which is why the twitter response is slow. Rules such as this have been written with zero consideration for people such as you, the idea that someone might need to cross who can't speak just will not have occurred to them.
 

30907

Veteran Member
Joined
30 Sep 2012
Messages
11,810
Location
Airedale
That is a very good question, I have Aspergers and ADHD (As well as many other conditions) and went to a special school where many of the students were unable to talk. I learnt basic sign language to speak to a friend of mine which in this instance would not be a useful way to communicate.

Your should contact Network rail and ask them what they do in that situation as they are required to make reasonable adjustments.
Are these crossings covered by CCTV from the box? If so, someone making a text-to-speech call (quite possibly from a wheelchair, given their need for level access) would be visible even if the call was inaudible and the signaller could respond.

I agree with jopsuk that this particular combination of circumstances might not have occurred to anyone.
 

Top