Procedures modified after Lewisham egress in March 2018?

Taunton

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Too many people standing around having a discussion about what they should do rather than doing what needs to be done.
Ever the railway way. Have a derailment and there are staff of every grade, including the decision makers, standing around the vehicles which, in the absence of lifting gear, are not going to do anything. Meanwhile up at the station no information at all is given to the stranded passengers. That's not the exciting bit.
 
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riceuten

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The article referred to stated that Southeastern did not follow RDG guidance in respect of stranded trains, which states that evacuation of a stranded train should be commenced after an hour and completed within two hours. Particularly given one of the trains was within sight of Lewisham Station.

And I know this is a PR thing,but, in the first instance, the "Rail Industry" concentrated mainly on slagging off the "trespassers" who detrained and not on the incident itself. Indeed SE and NR tried to spin this as the main cause of the delay.

If passengers had been kept informed and detrained, this would have been much less of an issue.
 

ComUtoR

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The passengers should have been detrained as soon as was practicable.
The problem here is that there wasn't a practical solution because all the trains got trapped behind each other. The junction layout is such that the unit trying to leave the platform couldn't clear the overlap and therefore caused a train to be trapped over the junction. Other trains were also trapped across junctions or simply blocked because of other trains sitting in their overlaps. There was no real way to detrain passengers because you couldn't get trains or platforms to detrain them to. Detraining them onto the track is the absolute last resort and due to the third rail this means that the juice would need to be switched off.


Have lessons been learned.. maybe.
Have procedures been changed.. not really.
Will it happen again.. absolutley.
 

DorkingMain

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Can't speak for everywhere but in the wake of this incident, the TOC I work for issued various briefs encouraging better communications between traincrew and control about trapped trains and passenger loading / condition, issuing a target for the amount of time a train should be trapped before an emergency procedure needs to be initiated to get it moving or evacuated, etc.
 

ComUtoR

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the TOC I work for issued various briefs encouraging better communications between traincrew and control about trapped trains and passenger loading / condition, issuing a target for the amount of time a train should be trapped before an emergency procedure needs to be initiated to get it moving or evacuated, etc.
We got "briefs" too. Effectively telling us about a target time and the need to evacuate...... Er... that advice already existed !

Getting briefs and reminders isn't a change in procedures. Communication was an issue when I first started on the Railway; and still is. I've lost count of the briefs, memos, training days, and crikey knows what else I've had over the years. There needs to be real change, not just another brief.
 

etr221

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... issuing a target for the amount of time a train should be trapped before an emergency procedure needs to be initiated to get it moving or evacuated, etc.
Wondering what this amount of time (as issued) is. I would suggest that it should be - AT MOST - five minutes. What was it at Lewisham? 35-40 minutes? (From the RAIB sequence of events, 1737 (para 61) to 1815 (para 71)

OK, the first stages of the emergency procedure are (should be) sorting out who's in charge, assessing the situation, considering what options there are, getting more staff on site.... but they should be under way within ten minutes.
 

DorkingMain

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We got "briefs" too. Effectively telling us about a target time and the need to evacuate...... Er... that advice already existed !

Getting briefs and reminders isn't a change in procedures. Communication was an issue when I first started on the Railway; and still is. I've lost count of the briefs, memos, training days, and crikey knows what else I've had over the years. There needs to be real change, not just another brief.
It's a difficult one. Most of these problems stem from TOC control:

- They treat everything like a flow chart - do this, then this, if this, do this. If crucial information isn't communicated to them by traincrew, that can mean they end up going down the wrong branch and making a decision that's totally incompatible with the situation on the ground. A train packed to the windows with cold, pissed off commuters is going to require more urgency than a train going into London at 11pm with 6 people on it.

- They take absolutely ages to make a decision about anything, and will only take decisive action when they're pressed to do so. There's such a fear about "delay minutes" and their cost that they refuse to initiate special procedures to get trains moving, to cancel trains, or move them out of the way. I've waited for far, far too long to be told what to do, to the point that by the time they ask me to do it, the situation has long degraded.

- They're often incredibly stubborn about deviating from their "flow chart" even if they're advised it might be a good idea to do so. I've lost count of the number of times I've notified TOC control of an emergency and been told to move the train to some particular point to deal with the emergency because it's going block a particular line, even when I've advised them it's not sensible or even possible to do so. This stems from the two issues above.

I've personally complained, and had other traincrew complain about the issues above - usually they are fed back and a new brief or a new flow chart is created, and everyone in the office pats themselves on the back about having fixed the situation. It's going to take a fundamental change in the approach emergency situations are treated with - there is too much of a mindset of "Emergencies must be resolved in such a way that doesn't upset our train service plans".
 

Sunset route

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The problem here is that there wasn't a practical solution because all the trains got trapped behind each other. The junction layout is such that the unit trying to leave the platform couldn't clear the overlap and therefore caused a train to be trapped over the junction. Other trains were also trapped across junctions or simply blocked because of other trains sitting in their overlaps. There was no real way to detrain passengers because you couldn't get trains or platforms to detrain them to. Detraining them onto the track is the absolute last resort and due to the third rail this means that the juice would need to be switched off.


Have lessons been learned.. maybe.
Have procedures been changed.. not really.
Will it happen again.. absolutley.
We got "briefs" too. Effectively telling us about a target time and the need to evacuate...... Er... that advice already existed !

Getting briefs and reminders isn't a change in procedures. Communication was an issue when I first started on the Railway; and still is. I've lost count of the briefs, memos, training days, and crikey knows what else I've had over the years. There needs to be real change, not just another brief.
I totally agree and where’s the like button.

It's a difficult one. Most of these problems stem from TOC control:

- They treat everything like a flow chart - do this, then this, if this, do this. If crucial information isn't communicated to them by traincrew, that can mean they end up going down the wrong branch and making a decision that's totally incompatible with the situation on the ground. A train packed to the windows with cold, pissed off commuters is going to require more urgency than a train going into London at 11pm with 6 people on it.

- They take absolutely ages to make a decision about anything, and will only take decisive action when they're pressed to do so. There's such a fear about "delay minutes" and their cost that they refuse to initiate special procedures to get trains moving, to cancel trains, or move them out of the way. I've waited for far, far too long to be told what to do, to the point that by the time they ask me to do it, the situation has long degraded.

- They're often incredibly stubborn about deviating from their "flow chart" even if they're advised it might be a good idea to do so. I've lost count of the number of times I've notified TOC control of an emergency and been told to move the train to some particular point to deal with the emergency because it's going block a particular line, even when I've advised them it's not sensible or even possible to do so. This stems from the two issues above.

I've personally complained, and had other traincrew complain about the issues above - usually they are fed back and a new brief or a new flow chart is created, and everyone in the office pats themselves on the back about having fixed the situation. It's going to take a fundamental change in the approach emergency situations are treated with - there is too much of a mindset of "Emergencies must be resolved in such a way that doesn't upset our train service plans".
Another post that needs a like button.
 
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Taunton

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I wonder if, anywhere in the TOC flowchart, it is even mentioned that if the weather is sub-freezing and the power is shut off for an extended period, the passengers might become cold ...
 

ComUtoR

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I wonder if, anywhere in the TOC flowchart, it is even mentioned that if the weather is sub-freezing and the power is shut off for an extended period, the passengers might become cold ...

I think you're still mssing the point. How do you magic up power to turn the heating on ? Once the brown stuff has hit the fan then it's already game over. Incidents like this must be prevented or have some way to recover as quick as possible.
 

infobleep

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I think you're still mssing the point. How do you magic up power to turn the heating on ? Once the brown stuff has hit the fan then it's already game over. Incidents like this must be prevented or have some way to recover as quick as possible.
I take the post to mean if passengers are cold then they need to act more quickly.
 

Robertj21a

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To me, the key issue was always the failure to apply the EPW arrangements, so that the stranded train was left far too long just short of the platform.
 

ComUtoR

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Without a doubt; decisions need to be made a lot quicker but that still does nothing to prevent or reduce stranded trains and no matter how quickly you act there is still no gettting the juce on any quicker. Everyone wants the TOCs to act, me too, but nobody is saying in what capacity. The opening question is about what has or needs to change. Decision making and Action are key skills required but prevention is far far better.

To me, the key issue was always the failure to apply the EPW arrangements, so that the stranded train was left far too long just short of the platform.
Whilst I do agree that is still to narrow of a focus. Even if EPW applied there is still a question of putting a train closer to the platform with passengers so willing to egress because of the close proximity. It also ignores that there just isnt enough staff to deal with such arrangements. Even if you had dropped the unit behind onto the platform you still have to justify sending a train directly behind a train that cannot depart because of the ice and snow. *send in more trains can make the situation worse.

This isn't just about a single train getting trapped. Multiple trains got put into situations they could not get out of. That should never have happened. (FYI it still happens)

*link is a scene from Futurama
 
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Philip Phlopp

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I think you're still mssing the point. How do you magic up power to turn the heating on ? Once the brown stuff has hit the fan then it's already game over. Incidents like this must be prevented or have some way to recover as quick as possible.
So what's your magic answers to prevent these sorts of incidents ?
 

ComUtoR

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So what's your magic answers to prevent these sorts of incidents ?
As @DorkingMain mentioned; fundamanetal change needs to happen.

Changes need to be made to train designs. Onboard information needs to be more than just a person on a PA that fails more often that you would like. No trains should be allowed to run without a toilet. Considering SE are getting 707s that just makes more trains without toilets :/ Retrofitting GSMR battery backup seems sensible at this point but I guarantee cost will decide against it, even though its not the first incident where it would have really helped.

Communication is vital but it needs to be used effectively. We have work issued mobile phones... that have so many restrictions they are almost worthless and even when they are, they are limited by the rulebook. Drivers being the last to know anything needs to change. Being told by your TOC that making an announcement even when you don't have any information is better than no announcement is kinda stupid. The information should be available and telling people that you have no idea whats going on can cause panic. Sometimes when I'm on a train I know more about whats going on than the person in the pointy bit.

In some places, like Lewisham, the signaling system is just broken. Even if EPW had taken place the train would have still been across the junction. I would rather have the junction remain clear until your platform is clear. There are times where you get signalled into a situation you can't then escape. Just like the Kentish Town trains just stacked up behind each other. In some respects this is going to be very very hard to overcome as the railway is getting more and more crowded and more services are running. Congestion is very real but the last couple of projects near me has removed various "get out of jail free" cards.

Control need some on the ground experience. Serious some of their decision making has no basis in reality. Get some of them out in trains for a day or get them on the ground.

Stop removing staff.

Multi skill your workforce. I believe one of the issues at Lewisham was that there were staff, but none were trained enough to deal with it. Station staff without PTS has always been a bit weird for me, I understand the reaosns why but in this day and age its just penny pinching not to have a well trained workforce.

Let Signallers have more control. The entire system of passing responsibility for everything is detrimental to the industry as a whole. Everyone is phoning someone else for advice and permission. The other day I had a train failure. The conversation with the Signaller was one fo the best I've had in years. He literally said.. Driver, there is a train behind you and your in the way; out of service and into the depot, please wait for change of aspect. It didn't need 10 different phone calls to decide what to do.
 
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HSTEd

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Short of Gerrard's Cross Tesco-ing the entire railway to stop track problems causing issues, or fitting every single running line with continuous platform..... (although the latter might be intriguing on newbuild lines)

I suppose the argument could be made that units should either be fitted with reserve generators or much larger reserve batteries as standard.

Toilets perhaps should be considered a safety critical system, simply because passengers without toilets are far more likely to start doing really stupid things that will impact safety.
 

TheEdge

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I'd agree with the other posters who have suggested the issue is not really the lack of toilets or provision of information but the lack of action and absolute fear of doing anything without someone "higher" saying so. The fact the London Bridge SSM was phoning control to try and get authority for something that he had, in black and white, the authority to authorise that would have solved so many problems is mad!

Also there needs to be a real shake up or reminder that the highest authority when it comes to train movements is signallers. They need to be unshackled when it comes to dealing with issues. If a signaller can solve a problem and has the drivers to do it then it should be up to them to do it, it is their job after all, not make call after to call to controllers to get permission to solve a problem. Signallers need to get the trains moving then it has to be up to Ops Controllers and Fleet Controllers to tidy the mess up afterwards.

And as drivers I feel that there is far to much of a taboo from up high on declaring a failure at the risk of loosing those valuable minutes. I know when I've declared a significant and total failure (my 153 had dumped all its engine coolant on the track thanks to a failed pipe) I started immediately questioning my decision and if I was going to get hauled up for it, even though I was clearly dead. That needs to stop too.
 

Sunset route

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I'd agree with the other posters who have suggested the issue is not really the lack of toilets or provision of information but the lack of action and absolute fear of doing anything without someone "higher" saying so. The fact the London Bridge SSM was phoning control to try and get authority for something that he had, in black and white, the authority to authorise that would have solved so many problems is mad!

Also there needs to be a real shake up or reminder that the highest authority when it comes to train movements is signallers. They need to be unshackled when it comes to dealing with issues. If a signaller can solve a problem and has the drivers to do it then it should be up to them to do it, it is their job after all, not make call after to call to controllers to get permission to solve a problem. Signallers need to get the trains moving then it has to be up to Ops Controllers and Fleet Controllers to tidy the mess up afterwards.

And as drivers I feel that there is far to much of a taboo from up high on declaring a failure at the risk of loosing those valuable minutes. I know when I've declared a significant and total failure (my 153 had dumped all its engine coolant on the track thanks to a failed pipe) I started immediately questioning my decision and if I was going to get hauled up for it, even though I was clearly dead. That needs to stop too.
Be careful that is revolutionary talk and that’s likely to get you hung drawn and quartered, I mean re-empowering signallers to able to do their job again unshackled is heresy in the modern railway.
 

O L Leigh

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I have found that controllers can be overridden. Twice so far in my career I have successfully argued the toss and got my own way, although these were for issues that did not directly affect other train movements. I have also opted not to carry out an instruction immediately which avoided the need to remove a train from service. On each occasion I felt confident that the action I was taking was correct and defensible.

All that said, however, you really are sticking your neck out and taking the responsibility squarely on your own shoulders. If it goes wrong it may not be just an uncomfortable chat with the gaffer that results. There is also a risk that you might just be mucking up whatever contingency control is trying to put into place. It's an issue for sure, and maybe frontline staff should have more input into the situation. But then I think I'd prefer it if the controller was busy getting on with getting something sorted out than having to consult anyone and everyone first.

On the information point, again it's a balancing act. I have found through experience that passengers are more accepting of a situation if you keep them in the loop (as it were), even if you have nothing to tell them. Unbroken silence from the pointy end just makes them fidgety. Yes I agree that we should be told more, but sometimes there really isn't anything to tell them because the one piece of information that passengers really want to know ("How long is this going to take?") cannot always be accurately ascertained. If the problem requires, say, a man in a van to come out and fix some lineside equipment, would you rather he was busy with the repair or dragging the job out for longer due to the need to call-in every 5 minutes?

I agree with my colleagues that something needs to be done to improve the handling of incidents, and I hope that there will be improvements made. However, I would also like to highlight what they have said about how these incidents are not going to go away. There are no "magic bullets", just small incremental changes that can be made to procedures. Therefore the wishes of the travelling public will need to be tempered with a degree of realism.

On the GSM-R battery point, I am a little unclear about this. Is this an issue with all GSM-R sets or is it a consequence of the Electrostar load-shedding process? My memory of driving these units is fading, but I seem to recall that they have a single handset for the PA, PCA and GSM-R with mode selector buttons, as the Turbostars do. This being the case, when the load-shedding finally does for the PA it would also remove the PCA and GSM-R facilities. Surely it must be possible to put these units into a low-battery survival mode whereby the PA, PCA and GSM-R continue to operate, together with an auxiliary compressor to raise the pan and close the VCB, all without the TCMS or any other systems operating. Compressor aside, these are low-draw systems.
 

pompeyfan

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Do any posters on here actually work in a railway control room? I get the impression this is turning into a bit of an echo chamber and it’s a tad unfair that control staff are unable or willing to defend themselves. I’m sure they’re well aware improvements can and need to be made, but having shadowed on a day where the brown stuff properly hit the fan they certainly try
 

Busaholic

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Do any posters on here actually work in a railway control room? I get the impression this is turning into a bit of an echo chamber and it’s a tad unfair that control staff are unable or willing to defend themselves. I’m sure they’re well aware improvements can and need to be made, but having shadowed on a day where the brown stuff properly hit the fan they certainly try
I'd wager that many who do work in railway control rooms share some of the frustrations expressed here and may even be happy that they are getting a wider audience.
 

O L Leigh

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I’m sure they’re well aware improvements can and need to be made, but having shadowed on a day where the brown stuff properly hit the fan they certainly try
I'm sure that is the case and have no doubt that they do their best under sometimes trying circumstances. I was in no way trying to have a pop at them. The issue is that they themselves are stymied by procedures that they are required to follow, and it is the procedures themselves that need to be looked at not the staff that have to implement them.

But then, just sometimes, control are the problem. I'm sure that I can't be the only member of frontline staff with more than a few stories about their controllers.
 

Robertj21a

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I can't immediately find the piece but is it true that some/all (?) central controls can talk *directly* to the passengers [presumably just on certain units ?] - I don't recall that being done at Lewisham.
 

PG

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I can't immediately find the piece but is it true that some/all (?) central controls can talk *directly* to the passengers [presumably just on certain units ?] - I don't recall that being done at Lewisham.
IIRC it's signallers who can communicate directly with the passengers on DOO stock, in case the driver (for whatever reason) is incapacitated.
 

O L Leigh

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It used to be just DOO services because it was a feature of Cab-Secure Radio (CSR) that was required to be used on those trains. This feature has been carried over to GSM-R, so now all trains have it. I know that the signallers can use this function, but I suppose that, if control have a GSM-R terminal (and I'm informed that they do), then they could also make use of it. What I'm not sure about is whether this works only on an individual train-by-train or group broadcast basis.

**EDIT**

Perhaps one thing that could be made better use of is the general broadcast facility to inform drivers at least of what's going on.
 

riceuten

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During 2 lengthy chats respectively with a driver during a lengthy delay and with a customer services staff member after the same, they both expressed frustration that one of the main issue was being unable to get information from control...because control were too busy addressing the issue.

Both also expressed the possibly contentious viewpoint that Control staff (at FCC and GTR) were rarely ex-drivers, but usually people who had come up the signalling staff side and hence, perhaps, "did not fully appreciate the passenger perspective".

I recall that fateful evening a year or two back where, due to a software glitch, a huge number of trains were stranded on the ECML, because the TSGN trains wouldn't restart after a break in power, and required the in person attendance at numerous locations for technicians to do so. At least an hour was wasted, as I recall, because management couldn't decide what the best option was.
 

pompeyfan

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If I remember rightly, GTR-SN can send messages directly to the PIS onboard the train which I think is a useful function. GTR can also contact drivers GSMR or at least send a message requesting the driver to call control. I’m not sure which other TOCs make use of this.
 

RPM

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Perhaps one thing that could be made better use of is the general broadcast facility to inform drivers at least of what's going on.
Agreed. That is a feature which is woefully underused. There are so many situations where drivers are stuck at a red signal with no idea what the issue is. The signaller is busy dealing with the actual problem up ahead and all the trains stacked up behind are left in the dark with just a "Wait" message on the GSMR and nothing useful to convey to the passengers. Regular, reassuring PA announcements go a very long way towards preventing a passenger revolt, but there's only so many times you can tell them you're stopped at a red signal for reasons unknown before it starts wearing very thin.
 

Robertj21a

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It's a bit worrying how much *could* have probably been done to help matters, even with just existing facilities - but was, seemingly, not used/overlooked/forgotten.
 

philthetube

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Do any posters on here actually work in a railway control room? I get the impression this is turning into a bit of an echo chamber and it’s a tad unfair that control staff are unable or willing to defend themselves. I’m sure they’re well aware improvements can and need to be made, but having shadowed on a day where the brown stuff properly hit the fan they certainly try
If controllers do not have stock experience and no trackside experience then they are being asked to deal with things which they do not have the knowledge to sort.

Where they generally shine is it getting the service back when the issue has been fixed, not in sorting the initial issue if that involves equipment failure.
 

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