This is an emergency call....

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ge-gn

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As a railway infrastructure worker I count myself lucky never to have made that dreaded call to the signaller. Indeed, I don’t know of any who have. Do they happen that often?

I’m interested in the experience with those who have, and the reason you made the call. Did you remember your lines? Did the signaller take lead of the call? Were you and the signaller able to keep calm?

Obviously I hope those emergency calls came to a satisfactory conclusion for the situation.

Thanks.
 
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Efini92

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I’ve heard a few, fortunately never had to make one. The one thing I noticed was no one seems to say over at the end of their message.
 

Horizon22

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I've had to make 2 both because of things falling onto the track at a station (although one of those "things" was a person! The first time.) It was all fairly quick - stated it was an emergency call, who I was and what I needed. The first one I did, the signaller repeated it back that the line was blocked etc. but the 2nd time several years later he basically said "okay that's all arranged for you" and we noted trains routed into different platforms. Once it resolved, phoned the signaller back and everything was confirmed and handed back. Fairly efficient, but the 2nd one definitely didn't meet all the regular protocols!
 

43066

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Do they happen that often?

In some five years I’ve received four, but two of those were on one journey a couple of months ago! All were due to entirely unrelated trespass incidents.
 

Eccles1983

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I've made 3.

1 under.
1 when someone was about to jump from an overbridge.
1 when I observed the OLE sparking.

The 1 under I unloaded. The signaller was very calm.

The rest have been routine. Ive heard playback of them.


Ive heard a dozen others, fatalities and trespassers. Some sound harrowing. Some are normal.
 

rd749249

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I’ve heard a few. One time I stopped my train in a neutral section

Thank goodness one of my pans was hanging out.
 

MingTMerciless

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I've made hundreds if not thousands on the old Cab Secure Radio system as test calls whilst I was a radio tech but only one in anger whilst we were working at Victoria when a fare dodger jumped off platform 17 and decided to run across all the roads towards platform 1. I also had to investigate call issues on the GSM-R and some of the recordings were quite harrowing.

May I also take this time to remind users that the Press-to-Talk button on a handset is also the "Let-go-to-Listen" button as well
 

skyhigh

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May I also take this time to remind users that the Press-to-Talk button on a handset is also the "Let-go-to-Listen" button as well
Wonder if you've heard the training recording I have then...

I've made 2, both for trespass incidents (1 where the bloke was trying to disrupt trains as a protest for something or other, 1 for a suicidal person).
 

Leeds1970

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I once had to call a signalman and say 'rail dangerous goods emergency' the phone went dead so I called straight back and quoted the same - the reply 'was oh f*** I was hoping you were joking but you're not are you - stay there I'll set the ball rolling'
 

Astro_Orbiter

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I've made 2, both for fatalities. For me at least it was something you say so many times during training you just know exactly what to say, and then never forget what you said lol
 

mr_moo

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I've made 3 as a track worker.
1) 2006 IIRC
I witnessed a suicide. Watched someone jump and the train hit them. I'd only been on the railway a few years at that point. After letting the, er, 'debris' settle and running down the track to the nearest SPT (which was on the end of the station platform), I recall rattling off the emergency call script (I think fairly accurately) at very high speed and the signaller saying something like "ok, ok, calm down, the tracks are closed. Tell me what you can see."

He calmly slowed me down, stepped me through the information that was needed and confirmed some details with me and told me the emergency services were already on their way. I also clearly remember asking about the welfare of the train driver and asking if he wanted me to walk up to the train and check on them. He said that the driver had already made their emergency call, was fine, and one of the things the driver had said was that he was concerned about the welfare of the track workers that were close by, and the signaller would now relay back to the train driver that I was ok too. Nice to know we both did procedures then checked on each other!

The signaller then also coaxed out of me where I worked and the name and phone number of my boss, who he then phoned. My boss recalls receiving a very unusual call that morning to inform him that one of his staff members was ok but had been involved in witnessing a suicide and may need a bit of support.

I am very grateful to that signaller - they did a great job.

After that my team and I helped clear the station of the public and I met the paramedics who arrived first. One was in her first week on the job and this was her first suicide - I felt a bit sorry for her as the scene was really not nice. The fire and police then arrived and the MOM too, who took control.

I recall the BTP officer who interviewed me describing me as "gold dust" as it was rare to have a witness who was so close and could describe exactly what had happened and confirm there was no-one else around so it was indeed a definite suicide, especially a railway worker and not just a member of the public.
After declining counselling or help and when the tracks re-opened after a couple of hours, I went back to work and continued my survey.

Just after 5PM, I finished the work, said goodbye to my collegues, and got in my car to drive home. I made it about a mile up the road before I pulled into a petrol station and sat there and cried, as it all finally hit me. I got a coffee and some chocolate and let myslf calm down for a good 30 mins or something before I could carry on.

I met the persons family in coronors court some time later, where I had to descibe what I had seen and confirm it was definately their intention to take their own life. The persons mother came up to me afterwards and said thank you. I'll never forget that. She said it was horrible hearing me describe it all but also brought her some closure as she knows it was clearly their decision to do it and they didn't suffer.

2) Grand Junction, Birmingham, 2011ish IIRC.
I was working about here: https://goo.gl/maps/d24Kqpi8xp5rG5Ub8
A man entered the railway somewhere to the East and I saw him walking towards me, very close to and then in the 4ft on the Down Main!
A train approached on the Down Main and the man got out the way in a very un-bothered manner. I saw the driver look at me and point towards the trespasser and I responded by waving my mobile phone that I was already dialling on and putting my thumb up to them.
I made an emergency phone call and remembered the script well. The signaller confirmed he was the right person and then confirmed with me exactly where the man was. He dropped a signal to red in front of a train leaving New Street, which stopped near me. After cautioning the train it continued along, and the next few trains were also stopped and cautioned and came through slowly.
The man dissapeared off into the arches on the North side of where I was working. BTP attended, met me and had a chat, then went to look for him. They found what looked like where he had been living, although they couldn't find the man himself.
I went back to work ok and felt fairly good with myself for staying calm and remembering the script and following the procedure.

3) Acton, GWML, 2016
I was in the Up Relief cess and a HST stopped on the Down Main opposite me, with what I later found to be a brake problem.
After the train had been stationary for about 5 minutes or so, someone on the side of the train I could see (so towards the adjacent tracks) opened a door and leaned out to see what was going on!
I phoned the signaller, checked I was talking to the right person, and described what was going on, following the script pretty well I think. One of my last lines was "I require you to stop trains on the Up Main past the stopped train .. oh s**t, a train" - A HeX came on the Up Main at fairly high speed. Cue horn sounding from the HeX driver and thankfully the fool on the HST closing the door just in time.
After that fright but nothing actually happening thankfully, the Up Main was indeed closed anyway for a time. The signaller phoned me back after a bit to ask what was going on and check there had been no further instances of the door being opened or anything else worrying. There hadn't been, so the signaler (after talking to the train manager too) re-opened the Up Main.

Shortly after the 2016 call I had my PTS re-cert course. When we got to the part where we were praciticing emergency calls I offered to instead repeat the actual call I had made a few months earlier. I was able to do so pretty much word for word I think!
 

TheBigD

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Received 2 as a signalman, one for a loco traction motor fire and the other for a fatality.

Made an emergency call (from my mobile) earlier this year when I was out cycling and came across a woman threatening to jump off a bridge on to the electrified railway line.

3 calls in total for 10.5 years as a signalman.
 

Nippy

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I once had to call a signalman and say 'rail dangerous goods emergency' the phone went dead so I called straight back and quoted the same - the reply 'was oh f*** I was hoping you were joking but you're not are you - stay there I'll set the ball rolling'
That is an astounding response from the signalman. I’m shocked that they thought that an acceptable way to deal with the initial call.
 

John Bishop

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I've made 3 as a track worker.
1) 2006 IIRC
I witnessed a suicide. Watched someone jump and the train hit them. I'd only been on the railway a few years at that point. After letting the, er, 'debris' settle and running down the track to the nearest SPT (which was on the end of the station platform), I recall rattling off the emergency call script (I think fairly accurately) at very high speed and the signaller saying something like "ok, ok, calm down, the tracks are closed. Tell me what you can see."

He calmly slowed me down, stepped me through the information that was needed and confirmed some details with me and told me the emergency services were already on their way. I also clearly remember asking about the welfare of the train driver and asking if he wanted me to walk up to the train and check on them. He said that the driver had already made their emergency call, was fine, and one of the things the driver had said was that he was concerned about the welfare of the track workers that were close by, and the signaller would now relay back to the train driver that I was ok too. Nice to know we both did procedures then checked on each other!

The signaller then also coaxed out of me where I worked and the name and phone number of my boss, who he then phoned. My boss recalls receiving a very unusual call that morning to inform him that one of his staff members was ok but had been involved in witnessing a suicide and may need a bit of support.

I am very grateful to that signaller - they did a great job.

After that my team and I helped clear the station of the public and I met the paramedics who arrived first. One was in her first week on the job and this was her first suicide - I felt a bit sorry for her as the scene was really not nice. The fire and police then arrived and the MOM too, who took control.

I recall the BTP officer who interviewed me describing me as "gold dust" as it was rare to have a witness who was so close and could describe exactly what had happened and confirm there was no-one else around so it was indeed a definite suicide, especially a railway worker and not just a member of the public.
After declining counselling or help and when the tracks re-opened after a couple of hours, I went back to work and continued my survey.

Just after 5PM, I finished the work, said goodbye to my collegues, and got in my car to drive home. I made it about a mile up the road before I pulled into a petrol station and sat there and cried, as it all finally hit me. I got a coffee and some chocolate and let myslf calm down for a good 30 mins or something before I could carry on.

I met the persons family in coronors court some time later, where I had to descibe what I had seen and confirm it was definately their intention to take their own life. The persons mother came up to me afterwards and said thank you. I'll never forget that. She said it was horrible hearing me describe it all but also brought her some closure as she knows it was clearly their decision to do it and they didn't suffer.

2) Grand Junction, Birmingham, 2011ish IIRC.
I was working about here: https://goo.gl/maps/d24Kqpi8xp5rG5Ub8
A man entered the railway somewhere to the East and I saw him walking towards me, very close to and then in the 4ft on the Down Main!
A train approached on the Down Main and the man got out the way in a very un-bothered manner. I saw the driver look at me and point towards the trespasser and I responded by waving my mobile phone that I was already dialling on and putting my thumb up to them.
I made an emergency phone call and remembered the script well. The signaller confirmed he was the right person and then confirmed with me exactly where the man was. He dropped a signal to red in front of a train leaving New Street, which stopped near me. After cautioning the train it continued along, and the next few trains were also stopped and cautioned and came through slowly.
The man dissapeared off into the arches on the North side of where I was working. BTP attended, met me and had a chat, then went to look for him. They found what looked like where he had been living, although they couldn't find the man himself.
I went back to work ok and felt fairly good with myself for staying calm and remembering the script and following the procedure.

3) Acton, GWML, 2016
I was in the Up Relief cess and a HST stopped on the Down Main opposite me, with what I later found to be a brake problem.
After the train had been stationary for about 5 minutes or so, someone on the side of the train I could see (so towards the adjacent tracks) opened a door and leaned out to see what was going on!
I phoned the signaller, checked I was talking to the right person, and described what was going on, following the script pretty well I think. One of my last lines was "I require you to stop trains on the Up Main past the stopped train .. oh s**t, a train" - A HeX came on the Up Main at fairly high speed. Cue horn sounding from the HeX driver and thankfully the fool on the HST closing the door just in time.
After that fright but nothing actually happening thankfully, the Up Main was indeed closed anyway for a time. The signaller phoned me back after a bit to ask what was going on and check there had been no further instances of the door being opened or anything else worrying. There hadn't been, so the signaler (after talking to the train manager too) re-opened the Up Main.

Shortly after the 2016 call I had my PTS re-cert course. When we got to the part where we were praciticing emergency calls I offered to instead repeat the actual call I had made a few months earlier. I was able to do so pretty much word for word I think!
Great post Mr Moo. Some really good learning points in there, thanks for sharing!
 

Pinza-C55

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I had to make 2, the first one on the underground to cut the juice when somebody went on the track. I had to use the phone on the platform which was encrusted with pigeon poop and the signaller was fairly professional, just asked which lines were affected. The second was in 2003 when I had a fatality on the ECML and I phoned Railtrack then my TOC control. The latter were quite shocked and wished me the best of luck and to take care.
 

185

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Just the once (on NRN) at the time whilst driver was out on the line, and shouted 'do us a favour and ring the box on the red button'.

Me: Err... o_O ok.
 

185

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Well... what happened? What was the incident?
Fatality, with an approaching freight train. Was quite surprised - all the stuff you were taught decades earlier just reels off as you make the call with the bobby repeating it back.
 

voyagerdude220

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Fatality, with an approaching freight train. Was quite surprised - all the stuff you were taught decades earlier just reels off as you make the call with the bobby repeating it back.
Ditto with me (although it wasn't quite decades ago).
My only emergency call was as a result of a person being hit by a train at the Station I was working at. I gladly didn't see it happen. Even the Driver didn't see/know it had happened, as the platform was on the opposite side of the train to the Driver. I only realised what had happened when an elderly man on the platform shouted and pointed to underneath the very rear of the train, right next to where myself and the Conductor were stood, oblivious to the person underneath the train. Somehow they survived, I'm guessing because the train will have been travelling at around 20 mph and slowing for a red signal. From the moment I lifted the telephone handset (which called directly through to the Signalbox) it felt like an eternity for them to answer, even though they were quite quick at answering the phone.
 

Sunset route

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That is an astounding response from the signalman. I’m shocked that they thought that an acceptable way to deal with the initial call.

Probably because we are not really taught how to deal with such calls, from the initial shock of the information coming in, to actually using a very rarely used rule. There is no real rehearsal or realistic simulation for such invents so it’s just down to that persons personality type and how well they cope with a new pressure. I’ve been a signaller for well 30 years and in the highest grade for over 20 years and I still haven’t received a “rail dangerous goods emergency call”, only one “emergency call” from a trackside worker, but shed load of “emergency calls” on the CSR and now REC calls on the GSMR from Drivers.
 

Nippy

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Probably because we are not really taught how to deal with such calls, from the initial shock of the information coming in, to actually using a very rarely used rule. There is no real rehearsal or realistic simulation for such invents so it’s just down to that persons personality type and how well they cope with a new pressure. I’ve been a signaller for well 30 years and in the highest grade for over 20 years and I still haven’t received a “rail dangerous goods emergency call”, only one “emergency call” from a trackside worker, but shed load of “emergency calls” on the CSR and now REC calls on the GSMR from Drivers.
I agree we don’t get many Rail Dangerous Goods Emergancy calls (i have had one in 28 years) but to hang up the call?
 

Sunset route

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I agree we don’t get many Rail Dangerous Goods Emergancy calls (i have had one in 28 years) but to hang up the call?

I forget that bit, you expect a stutter or momentary pause as what’s just been said to sink in and the thought process to kick in, but to hang up, that is so wrong on many levels.
 

Pinza-C55

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I once had to call a signalman and say 'rail dangerous goods emergency' the phone went dead so I called straight back and quoted the same - the reply 'was oh f*** I was hoping you were joking but you're not are you - stay there I'll set the ball rolling'

What were the dangerous goods ? Nuclear or chemical ?
 

Leeds1970

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it was chemical - i wont say what or where as following a BR inquiry a number of the customers staff were sacked as was a senior BR manager. The incident happened in the late 80's before a lot of the protocols that would be used today were put in place .
To be fair to the signalman, i cannot really fault him for his initial reaction, this was a nightly working so he was aware of what we were transporting and the possible implications so hearing my words must of been terrifying, to his credit after his initial shock he did everything by the book, the emergency procedure's and response (from the police, fire & ambulance) all fell into place and ran like clockwork.
 

Stigy

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I’ve heard a few, fortunately never had to make one. The one thing I noticed was no one seems to say over at the end of their message.
I’m not sure whether the ones you’ve heard are via GSM-R, but worth noting in general for those not in the industry or without knowledge of these scenarios that the requirement to say “over” etc is radio protocol so wouldn’t really matter if making the call from anything other than GSM-R or other radio, where it’s effectively a group call and anyone can speak.
 

bgrtmd225

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I've had to make 2. Depending on the situation, your constancy flipping from textbook procedures to coming off script because the nature of the incident has changed and you have to remind yourself what you are doing. My Call was an attempted/in progress suicide. It's certainly not a call you'd want to make.
 

Efini92

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I’m not sure whether the ones you’ve heard are via GSM-R, but worth noting in general for those not in the industry or without knowledge of these scenarios that the requirement to say “over” etc is radio protocol so wouldn’t really matter if making the call from anything other than GSM-R or other radio, where it’s effectively a group call and anyone can speak.
Sorry it didn’t sound clear, they were from gsmr.
 
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