Passengers abandon train at Lewisham with 3rd rails still live.

Discussion in 'UK Railway Discussion' started by theironroad, 2 Mar 2018.

  1. Tio Terry

    Tio Terry Member

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    I shall look forward with great interest to the RAIB inquiry.

    As a railwayman of more than 53 years experience, here is my five peneth worth:-

    It is totally, completely and utterly unreasonable to expect what must have been around 300 people to remain trapped in a crush loaded train without heating, lighting and toilet facilities in the prevailing weather conditions for more than 30 minutes. It's just not going to happen - especially when so close to a station.

    NR and TOC staff are co-located in control offices - think it's Friars Bridge Court for Lewisham - they should have been able to risk assess the situation and realise that a controlled walking pace progress by the train in to the platform to allow detrainment was a much lower risk course of action than leaving it within a short distance of passenger perceived safety and alternative ways to their destinations.

    I don't accept the "it's more than my job's worth" comments from some on here when talking about the Rule Book, clearly it was an exceptional, emergency, situation and sensible risk assessments would have resulted in a much safer situation. Perhaps the Managers on duty need some additional training?


    For what it's worth, I progressed through the ranks of the Engineering departments to the point I was a Competent Independent Person under ROGS and a Principle Conformance Engineer under CSM, so I know a thing or two about Risk Assessment.
     
  2. farleigh

    farleigh Member

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    very balanced post Tio
     
  3. Antman

    Antman Established Member

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    Excellent post
     
  4. otomous

    otomous Member

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    But have you been a driver only driver stranded on your own with 12 cars of angry passengers while no one with any authority makes a decision?

    You may have decades of practical and valuable experience but I wouldn’t be answering to you, it would probably be someone who has only worked in offices and has no grasp of what it’s like out there. They don’t recognise practical concepts like 300 people about to detrain, they would only be working out how they can blame me for something. You may not accept the “jobsworth” mentality but that’s what front line staff have to live with these days.
     
  5. DynamicSpirit

    DynamicSpirit Established Member

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    I don't think the two are incompatible, are they? Presumably, permission could have been given for the train that was stuck approaching Lewisham to move into the occupied section so it could wait in the station, AS WELL AS having people attempt to clear the ice that was stopping the train just beyond Lewisham?
     
  6. tsr

    tsr Established Member

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    Well, to explain...

    You'd likely need to turn off third rail power in order to de-ice shoegear or the third rail, especially in the more serious cases; with the best will in the world, insulated tools can't always do the job, or necessarily do it safely. Power can't usually be remotely turned off for areas that small, even if it may be possible by getting (selected) Network Rail staff to site and then having them work out the implications of each hookswitch with the Electrical Control Room Operator.

    So you're looking at turning off the power within at least one or two signal sections either side of the "incident train", which means that any train within the immediate area wouldn't reliably have any power and may not be able to pump up the brakes to get them released and roll into the platform. And that's assuming both the gradient and any other prevailing conditions are suitable. You'd also have to quantify the risks posed any train with a power "bus line" between different shoegear. Such trains can do nasty things if they manage to transfer the power between an isolated section of track and one which is still live. They will potentially provide a feed to the previously isolated third rail, which will be lethal to anyone working on it. This can also damage the train if it is prolonged.

    (This is why you get the power switched off to "abutting sections" in the event of someone potentially being in contact with the third rail - such as trespass incidents. You can't take the risk of a unit coming to a stand where it's half-in and half-out of the isolated area, and providing a bridge from live to isolated sections. In turn, this also means an emergency switch-off regulary causes extra disruption because more bits of track will be without power.)
     
  7. DynamicSpirit

    DynamicSpirit Established Member

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    Thanks for the explanation, tsr. That makes sense, but that leaves me a bit confused: Your explanation implies that power would need to be cut off to carry out the de-icing, but I was under the impression that power was only cut off when a passenger actually got out of the stranded train that needed de-icing. From reading this thread, all the reports seem to be consistent that the other trains in the area, including the one that was just waiting to come into Lewisham and so could have been allowed to move to the platforms, kept their power (and heating etc.) until it was reported that power had to be turned off because of passengers from other trains on the line. That would seem to imply that the intention was to leave power on while the de-icing was carried out.

    ????
     
  8. edwin_m

    edwin_m Veteran Member

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    I think the point here is that, with hindsight, the second train could have been moved into the platform BEFORE the power was cut off to de-ice the conductor rail for the first train. That way if anyone wanted to leave the second train they could have done so easily without having to go onto the track, thus making it more likely that the de-iceing could be completed without interruption and perhaps avoiding the snowballing (no pun intended) series of isolations and evacuations. Perhaps this course of action was considered and dismissed for some reason - that is a question for RAIB.
     
  9. MikeWh

    MikeWh Established Member Senior Fares Advisor

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    I think this may have been rebutted in part, but for the record it is very inaccurate.

    Tuesday was the last day they attempted to run a normal service and it ended up in a complete mess. The reduced service was introduced on the Wednesday and industry systems were loaded up such that the cancelled services didn't appear. The reduced service worked well on Wed/Thu and Fri morning so if you were glancing at LDB you wouldn't have seen lots of alert messages. By Friday afternoon things were rapidly deteriorating with the Sidcup line closed early as well as the line through Maidstone East. The reduced service continued for its fourth day on Saturday before normal services resumed on the Sunday.

    There were certainly more severe warnings for East Kent, but overall the advice was not to travel unless essential throughout the entire period of the reduced service. This advice started to be relaxed on the Saturday.
     
  10. tsr

    tsr Established Member

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    I can't find the exact sequence in my records, but I was under the impression that power would have been switched off to de-ice the affected the train once attempts to shift it by other means had been aborted. This would not have affected all other services in the area, but once a passenger left one affected train, the need to turn off the power was increased to a greater and greater area.

    For a train that is very severely stuck due to ice (probably applies to a service which is unusually unable to move from just outside Lewisham in major snow/freezing rain during the evening peak!) you may need to get "up close" to the third rail to check the problem and de-ice the right bit. Obviously you're not going to be able to do that by just bashing it with things with insulated handles, so you'd need to turn off the power at some point.

    I am only speculating, and this is to be emphasised, but I should imagine passengers' tempers were wearing thin by the time their cramped trains had been stuck waiting for the train ahead to move for half an hour, having been promised that numerous attempts had already been made - and to then make the train suddenly very cold and dark would have been the straw which broke the camel's back.
     
  11. Robertj21a

    Robertj21a Established Member

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    Thank you. Good, clear explanations (as always).
     
  12. theageofthetra

    theageofthetra Established Member

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    Excellent comments.
     
  13. Tio Terry

    Tio Terry Member

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    No, I've never been a driver. The point I was trying to make is that the driver should not find himself in that position. According to previous posts in this column the driver made repeated requests to be allowed to move forward in to the platform. The problem appears to be a matter of management decision making (or the lack of it) between Ops Control and the Signalling Centre. I would be interested to know who requested the traction power isolation and who granted it - and what risks were identified before that decision was made.

    As I said, I shall look forward to reading the RAIB report.
     
  14. notverydeep

    notverydeep Member

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    A question about how management decisions within complex incidents of Network Rail are made: do they (Network Rail / TOC route control functions) have anyone in a senior position, who might perhaps have a job title like "Senior Operating Officer", who can consider and if necessary sign off waivers to elements of the operating rules?
     
  15. Trackman

    Trackman Member

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  16. Domh245

    Domh245 Established Member

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    RAIB have confirmed that they are launching a full investigation

     
  17. Bromley boy

    Bromley boy Established Member

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    Good news indeed about the investigation.
     
  18. DarloRich

    DarloRich Veteran Member

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    it should make interesting reading
     
  19. theageofthetra

    theageofthetra Established Member

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    Is this separate from the independent investigation already announced.
     
  20. Mag_seven

    Mag_seven Established Member

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    I think its a follow on as the RAIB state:

     
  21. Robertj21a

    Robertj21a Established Member

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  22. 4069

    4069 Member

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  23. theironroad

    theironroad Established Member

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    I was all when I saw this initial heading: "Investigation into the events following the stranding of trains in freezing weather", hoping that it would encompass the New Forest stranding as well as any other incidents.

    So slightly disappointed that it seems to be in reference to Lewisham only: "RAIB to investigate the events following the stranding of trains in freezing weather, near Lewisham, 2 March 2018."

    Hopefully the actual investigation will cover the details of the 14-15 hour stranding of 5 trains in the New Forest as well.
     
  24. DynamicSpirit

    DynamicSpirit Established Member

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    It is indeed good news.

    I was slightly impressed for a moment that the Rail Accident Investigation Branch are doing a full investigation even though there was actually any accident at Lewisham (distressing though the situation was for passengers) - but I see on a bit of browsing it seems that they have investigated other incidents where there wasn't an accident.

    Is there actually anything significant to investigate for the New Forest incident? I mean - yes, it was extremely bad for the passengers involved, but... train gets stranded overnight by ice in a relatively remote location... Weather prevents a rescue until the following morning. No-one is actually hurt... The reasons why trains can lose power in those conditions are well understood... There doesn't seem on the face of it to be anything that isn't immediately explainable by the very bad weather conditions?
     
    Last edited: 13 Mar 2018
  25. DynamicSpirit

    DynamicSpirit Established Member

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    Another question... The issue has been raised a couple of times about trusting drivers' judgement more because drivers are in a better position to understand the situation on their train. That makes me curious as to how much information drivers do actually have? I mean - they can't in normal circumstances leave their cab to talk to passengers directly, and certainly couldn't walk through trains as crowded as the ones on that Friday were. And they have no means by which to get passengers to talk back to them. So how do drivers know the conditions in their train? Do they have access to the train's CCTV or something?
     
  26. theironroad

    theironroad Established Member

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    While the trains themselves weren't moved for a day or two, the evacuation of passengers by diesel train using wrong road running could have been carried out 10 hours earlier at least. Passengers were left with no heat or light in on board temperatures around freezing.

    The overriding aim of the RAIB's investigation needs to be into the decison making that lead to passengers not being evacuated sooner in both cases. In addition, it should ponder why both TOCs seemed to have ignored the ATOC guidelines written specifically for them which have been referenced upthread.

    No one was hurt at Lewisham either.
     
  27. Bromley boy

    Bromley boy Established Member

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    No knowledge at all about the on board situation. 376 CCTV can be interrogated through MITRAC but there’s no sound and 50% of the time the system doesn’t work in all coaches. Networks don’t have a TMS and there’s therefore no CCTV feed accessible by the driver.

    Electronic devices cannot be used in the cab on pain of gross misconduct, so no other info is really available other than what can be seen out of the windscreen, and what the signaller passes on over the GSMR.

    Drivers have been known to open the saloon door, ask passengers for the latest twitter updates and pass these to the rest of the train via the PA!
     
  28. DynamicSpirit

    DynamicSpirit Established Member

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    Thanks Bromley Boy. That's very informative.

    And I must say - it also sounds quite worrying. So from what you're saying, you could have - for example - a bunch of thugs beating someone up on the train, and the driver would have no possible way of knowing that anything was amiss - unless someone else activated the emergency mechanism to talk to the driver? Sounds like a strong argument against having DOO trains?
     
  29. Bromley boy

    Bromley boy Established Member

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    Absolutely. People regularly smoke*, fight, urinate on the trains, the driver is blissfully unaware! I had an attempted mugging on one of mine the other day - was unaware until it was reported at the next station by which time the perpetrators had scarpered.

    A passcom activation is never welcome because you simply don’t know what you’re walking back to. If you were aware of a fight kicking off you'd be loathe to walk back.

    *almost always right behind the cab <(.
     
  30. AlterEgo

    AlterEgo Established Member

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    I wonder if the RAIB will look at some of those practicalities. Clearly, no driver should be using any electronic devices while driving, or really even while stopped in the normal course of work.

    But there could be an argument to give some sort of special dispensation on services with only a driver aboard when the job’s stopped.

    It seems perverse that the driver has to wait on a very busy control room and has no way of knowing the conditions on the train they have (often sole) command over.
     

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