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Baltasound
21st Jul 2011, 15:27
Network Rail has started consulting on plans to drastically reduce the number of signal workers and signal boxes as part of a modernisation programme aimed at saving £250 million a year and improving punctuality.

The Rail Maritime and Transport (RMT) union said the plans could see the number of signallers cut from 6,000 to 2,000 over the next 30 years.

There were 10,000 signal boxes at the start of the 20th century but that number has been reduced to around 800 today, but NR wants to introduce a new system, widely used in the United States and Europe, which could see the number of locations cut to just 16.

An NR spokesman said: "Network Rail is in the early stages of a proposal that could accelerate its signalling modernisation programme, delivering significant benefits in terms of more punctual services, more flexible services, better passenger information and savings approaching £250 million per year.

"It's a long term strategy, phased over 15 to 30 years, and we have started to discuss its implications with both the trade unions and our people."

The RMT made it clear it will not accept any compulsory redundancies and will be seeking a shorter working week, increased annual leave and voluntary retirement at 55.

General Secretary Bob Crow said: "There have been discussions this week over future signalling arrangements on the rail network. Those discussions are at an early stage.

"RMT wants to make it absolutely clear that we will not agree to anything that compromises the job security, safety or standards of living of our members.

"We are not opposed to new technology but we are clear that any changes that may arise should be accommodated through a shorter working week, additional annual leave and the right to retire at 55 on full pension entitlement."

* Services between Portsmouth and London Waterloo were delayed during the rush hour this morning because of signalling problems.

PA




The higher management seems to have an ATC obsession at the moment; except when it comes to £££££££. But otherwise: safety critical comms; handovers; new fangled technology such as radio communication with the person on the front (I always look forward to getting those poor drivers out of their cabs, onto the trackside and then turning the signal just...just as they reach the SPT...;) ) and of course that perennial favourite, the roster.

Please sir, what's meal relief? :hmm:

I look forward to my bright future of sitting in front of a computer screen and playing space invaders...:E

Dan Gerous
21st Jul 2011, 15:51
I look forward to my bright future of sitting in front of a computer screen and playing space invaders...

It's not that bad, get out of bed around ten, sit in front of your 50" Plasma telly with a fag and a can of Carlsberg Spesh, and watch Jeremy Kyle.

Sorted.:ok:

radeng
21st Jul 2011, 16:51
These schemes all rely on the technology doing its job. How often do we hear of the service coming to a grinding halt on either the WCML or the ECML because of the wires coming down, 'power supply problems', and the like? Excluding the scrotes pinching the cables, of course...

It only needs Joe with his digger to go through the wrong cable (fibre presumably) and you could see vast areas of country with trains grinding to a halt.........Are you still allowed to introduce time interval signalling? You could well also be in a situation where the communications have totally gone...

Somehow, I doubt that they will spend money on providing a duplicate secure comms system that runs fibres in different routes.......I do remember hearing about a safety system where it was decided to provide a duplicate back up, but the duplicate cable got laid in the same duct!

galaxy flyer
21st Jul 2011, 17:15
I look forward to my bright future of sitting in front of a computer screen and playing space invaders..

Or just hang around Pprune like the rest of us.

GF

Ancient Observer
21st Jul 2011, 17:27
At least you are being replaced with technology.
I was working in one of those Intergalactic Corp.s and was replaced by a much younger Chinese female. I'm too old, white, and male.

Danscowpie
21st Jul 2011, 19:47
A reduction of 4000 people over 30 years is just over 130 people per year, I'm pretty sure that the annual natural attrition rate of staff is more than that.

As for the rest, technology in the railway industry has no reason to lag behind aviation or any other transport network.
I accept that successive governemnts and various directors of railway companies haven't helped, but if it wasn't for them and for luddites such as Bob Crowe and the RMT, we would have a very competitive and modern railway network whose employees would be well renumerated.

RedhillPhil
21st Jul 2011, 23:19
I'm glad I'm retiring in September.

Cacophonix
21st Jul 2011, 23:32
Guys it ain't good out there!

McGoonagall
21st Jul 2011, 23:42
Are you still allowed to introduce time interval signalling?

No we rely on Temporary Block Working. One train passing two or more defective signals at a reduced speed and with other restrictions in place. It needs handsignallers to be in place before it is allowed along with crossing attendants and other personnel. It is only used if it has really gone tits up or is pre-planned.

Mechta
21st Jul 2011, 23:58
I was working in one of those Intergalactic Corp.s and was replaced by a much younger Chinese female. I'm too old, white, and male.

Happens to females too. Ask Anna Torv Murdoch...:}

jimtherev
22nd Jul 2011, 00:04
Gross exaggeration /oversimplification follows.

Trouble is, what used to be a little local difficulty, solved by a dozen men with arm bands and red and green flags is now apt to close down the whole East Coast Main Line, or give us wonderful day-long mystery tours by road.

One shudders to think what will happen when them wot knows have closed down every remaining signalling centre and outsourced everything to Mumbai (or whatever it's called this week).

radeng
22nd Jul 2011, 20:12
McGoonagall,

ok, so it goes tits up. How long does it take to get the handsignallers, crossing attendants etc out and in place? I would guess quite a few hours....the old mechanical signalling systems needed a lot more people, but they could react much faster when things went wrong.

Modern technology is fine if the system is designed to allow for failures, and back ups are provided. But the argument is that it doesn't happen often enough so it is not economically justified. If the railways were to be hit with the same penalties as airlines, it might be different. I suspect it is only a matter of time before we get one of these trains stuck in middle of the countryside with pax suffering with heat stroke or hypothermia and there's a death.

Imagine not having a hot standby for an ILS system at a busy airport because of cost. Ooops, sorry, better not mention it to BAA....

Meanwhile we have the highest train fares in Europe, if not in the world, and TOCs in most cases raking it in, although not after they've paid exorbitant salaries for the top executives....there are parallels to the airline business!


very interesting is reading the old accident reports from even the days of BR: when something went wrong, they cleared the track and restored services as soon as possible. Now they wait for BTP to collect evidence and shuit the job down for days...

RedhillPhil
22nd Jul 2011, 23:25
McGoonagall,

ok, so it goes tits up. How long does it take to get the handsignallers, crossing attendants etc out and in place? I would guess quite a few hours....the old mechanical signalling systems needed a lot more people, but they could react much faster when things went wrong.

Modern technology is fine if the system is designed to allow for failures, and back ups are provided. But the argument is that it doesn't happen often enough so it is not economically justified. If the railways were to be hit with the same penalties as airlines, it might be different. I suspect it is only a matter of time before we get one of these trains stuck in middle of the countryside with pax suffering with heat stroke or hypothermia and there's a death.

Imagine not having a hot standby for an ILS system at a busy airport because of cost. Ooops, sorry, better not mention it to BAA....

Meanwhile we have the highest train fares in Europe, if not in the world, and TOCs in most cases raking it in, although not after they've paid exorbitant salaries for the top executives....there are parallels to the airline business!


very interesting is reading the old accident reports from even the days of BR: when something went wrong, they cleared the track and restored services as soon as possible. Now they wait for BTP to collect evidence and shuit the job down for days...

Last paragraph. My old Operations Manager used to tell me that I was paid to run trains, not stand around waiting for someone to make a decision. Such people nowadays are usually graduates with a minimum of training in theory. There just isn't the amount of people nowdays trained in handsignalling/pointwinding/barrier work. In B.R. days many of the station staff would be trained up so things could get moving quickly. In my days as Duty Manager at Gatwick Airport station I even had the carriage cleaners trained up in handsignalling and pointwinding. Nowadays no station staff are allowed on the track. Clapham crash in the nineties. All four lines were open by the following day. Hatfield crash. East Coast main line closed for five days.
Like I mentioned earlier, I'm glad I'm retiring in September.

radeng
23rd Jul 2011, 07:25
It does seem that a system that with all its faults, worked reasonably well has been turned into an inflexible 'notwork'.

Back in the 1970s, I turned up at Dartford station for the 2310 to Charing Cross, stopping only at Woolwich Arsenal. I knew the station foreman slightly: he told me that because of a derailment at Slade Green carriage sidings, there weren't any trains. Then he told me to sit in the porter's room and have cup of tea while he got control to send the night cover men up from Ramsgate. They started off with 4 coaches, all stations to Dartford, picking up another 4 at Faversham because of demand and another 4 at Gillingham, and with a full 12 coach train, then did a special stop at Abbey Wood to let me off. That sort of flexibility provided a service - and there's no way you could get that now. I found that the Southern region of BR was nowhere near as bad as people claimed.

Of course there was an exception to good service - the Tilbury line out of Fenchurch Street. Amazing how often Westinghouse signalling broke down..if you believed their excuses.

McGoonagall
23rd Jul 2011, 10:10
It does seem that a system that with all its faults, worked reasonably well has been turned into an inflexible 'notwork'.Down to the side of the computer desk sits my copy of the rule book. 2xA5 binders consisting of 39 modules and running to a couple of thousand pages. Deviation from the rules gives these

Such people nowadays are usually graduates with a minimum of training in theory. five minute managers an excuse to send me down the road clutching a freshly printed P45.

I accept that we can not go back to the steam days and have a signal box every few miles but even today there are stretches of main line with one box controlling up to 90 miles of straight route. There is a vast difference between a signaller with excellent knowledge of his area and a signaller sat at a computer screen with very little knowledge of the area he is controlling, save signals and routes.

but if it wasn't for them and for luddites such as Bob Crowe and the RMT, we would have a very competitive and modern railway network whose employees would be well renumerated. I'm no lover of Brother Crowe but without the trade unions acting as a brake the managers referred to above, and those above them, would sacrifice safe working practices in a continual effort to drive down costs and maximise profit margins. Staff levels would be cut to the bare minimum with added pressure on those left to work outside the safety margins to get the job done. These same managers then retreat behind the rule book when there is an incident and recruit a replacement.

Network Rail and most TOCs (not all) make a big thing about having a 'no blame' culture. Total nonsense. If there is an incident, not necessarily a serious one, see how long it takes for the blame culture to kick in if it could possibly cost the company money.

Like I mentioned earlier, I'm glad I'm retiring in September. 8 years behind you Phil.

radeng
23rd Jul 2011, 18:01
Say you have the ECML between Peterborough and Doncaster shut down for three hours. How much, and who does it cost? The TOC or Notwork Rail? The PAX, of course are left to stew...........What happens if in the stuck overheated train, a guy has a heart attack and there's nowhere near to get an ambulance to the stuck train - or the for the helicopter to land? Have they got a procedured for such an eventuality - which doesn't appear that unlikely, given the number of times it does stop working?

TBirdFrank
23rd Jul 2011, 23:46
It appears that I got retired nine months ago, although I had to leave the railways a decade ago on compulsory redundancy.

I was, in the end, glad to go as I cannot stomach the new taxpayer robbing industry that has grown up. Buckshaw station - two platforms and a car park - and a DDA lift(!) £6.8m - Bloody Crazy!

Manchester to Euston up to £375 for a return ticket - and last night I had a friend here talking to me about market pricing and how good the industry is at exploiting it - and why we need HS2 - at a mere £32Bn for Euston to Birmingham

I'm glad I'm out - because seeing straight through the king's new clothes simply makes you unpopular - not right, these days!

ZOOKER
23rd Jul 2011, 23:51
Cowpie,
Are you suggesting that signal-boxes should get quality systems like EFD, (sorry ETD)? :E

RedhillPhil
24th Jul 2011, 00:38
Say you have the ECML between Peterborough and Doncaster shut down for three hours. How much, and who does it cost? The TOC or Notwork Rail? The PAX, of course are left to stew...........What happens if in the stuck overheated train, a guy has a heart attack and there's nowhere near to get an ambulance to the stuck train - or the for the helicopter to land? Have they got a procedured for such an eventuality - which doesn't appear that unlikely, given the number of times it does stop working?

Well, first of all the entire system goes into the tradditional blame mode. "Your wires came down".
"Your train brought the wires down".
"Your train broke down in front of my train".
""Your train was late anyway".
Et al.
Delays caused by a TOC are charged to same. Same with Network Rail.
In fairness, total stoppages for any length of time are uncommon and certainly rarer than a full stoppage on a major road for whatever reason. A recent one near Woking was described as being there for hours when in fact it was initially about forty minutes - made worse by the punters getting out and walking causing the conductor rail to be isolated again and further delaying the trains.
There's no real set down procedure for a person requiring medical help in a stuck train - given how uncommon it is - because each one is different but it's amazing when push comes to shove just how close an ambulance or fire crew can get to gain access to a train. I have known an air ambulance to be put down on the track before now.

11Fan
24th Jul 2011, 00:41
Since you guys are speaking of train safety, did you happen to see this?

At least 32 people died when a high-speed train smashed into a stalled train in China's eastern Zhejiang province Saturday, state media said, raising new questions about the safety of the fast-growing rail network.

http://www.reuters.com/resources/r/?m=02&d=20110723&t=2&i=464625089&w=&fh=&fw=&ll=700&pl=300&r=2011-07-23T160221Z_01_BTRE76M18K100_RTROPTP_0_CHINA-TRAIN-ACCIDENT

At least 32 die in east China high-speed train crash | Reuters (http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/07/23/us-china-train-idUSTRE76M26T20110723)

Cacophonix
24th Jul 2011, 03:02
If that's unavailable

Ah, there are still parts of the world where you might fly the good old NDB approach! ;)

At least 32 people died when a high-speed train

Ouch! It appears that the crash was indirectly caused by a lightning strike.

China train crash kills 32 | World news | The Observer (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jul/23/china-train-crash-kills-32)

The total power failure rendered useless an electronic safety system designed to warn following trains of stalled trains on the tracks and automatically halt them before a collision can occur.

There appears to be a slightly cavalier approach to rail development in the country...

http://www.f00144feab49a.html#ixzz1Sz4CE5i3t.com/cms/s/0/bbdb6d5a-f304-11de-a888-

The improvement illustrates how China’s huge investment in infrastructure is dramatically shrinking the country, yet the economics of the new service, which runs 56 times a day, remain unproven amid a build-it-and-they-will-come approach to transport.

Cacophonix
24th Jul 2011, 04:28
Push the needle, pull the tail. I vaguely remember. Where I work, we no longer train the NDB, we no longer have those pages in our Jepps, and even authorization to perform an NDB is no longer in our Ops Specs.

I am sure you are safer for the lack of these approaches. Happy and safe flying. :ok:

Caco

RedhillPhil
24th Jul 2011, 12:04
A reduction of 4000 people over 30 years is just over 130 people per year, I'm pretty sure that the annual natural attrition rate of staff is more than that.

As for the rest, technology in the railway industry has no reason to lag behind aviation or any other transport network.
I accept that successive governemnts and various directors of railway companies haven't helped, but if it wasn't for them and for luddites such as Bob Crowe and the RMT, we would have a very competitive and modern railway network whose employees would be well renumerated.

Just noticed this post. Understand, I'm no fan of brother Bob or his henchman Sikorski (actually it's the other war around) but...compare two technology changes that happened at about the same time and the result.
When the newsaper industry changed from the tradditional printing technology and moved to direct input at Wapping you may recall the industrial chaos that followed. The "Times" was almost permanently closed down. There was weeks of strikes and some very ugly scenes.
About the same time the Area Signalling Centres at Victoria and Three Bridges were being phased in with the loss of about 57 signalboxes on the Brighton main line. The technology went from lever pulling and bell ringing to button pushing and electronics.
Industrial action, what industrial action?

"..technology in the railway industry has no reason to lag behind aviation..".

Which is why when it's foggy trains continue to run at line speed and aeroplanes stay on the ground. (Well they do at Gatwick).

radeng
24th Jul 2011, 17:21
RedhillPhil

>Which is why when it's foggy trains continue to run at line speed<

With various ATC systems since 1901! Even without ATC, with fogmen and detonators at distant signals. The trouble was when the fogmen weren't available.