Latest Rail News

29.09.16

Freight sector told to review fatigue management systems following SPADs

Following two signal passed at danger (SPAD) incidents on the same freight route last year, the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) has called for the freight industry to carry out a review of its fatigue management system.

The two SPADs involved DB Cargo trains on the Acton to Westbury route. One train passed a signal at Reading Westbury Line Junction at 08.22 on 28 March 2015 after the driver momentarily fell asleep. A second then passed a signal at Ruscombe Junction at 06.11 on 3 November 2015.

In the first case, the driver had worked early morning shifts for four of the five previous days, and also suffered from a medical condition which affected his sleep. The day before the incident, he had started a shift at 2am after sleeping for three hours.

In the second case, the driver had been sleeping for roughly four hours a night in the days leading up to the incident.

The RAIB report said: “Both SPAD incidents occurred because the drivers were too fatigued to properly control their trains.”

Simon French, chief inspector of rail accidents, said the report has highlighted the ‘real-world’ experience of freight train drivers.

“By necessity, many freight trains must operate at night and many drivers are required to work long and irregular shifts, often during night hours,” he said. “This means that drivers must accommodate their sleep, home responsibilities, social life and commuting in the hours that remain – and this can be a challenge. For this reason I urge freight operating companies, their employees and trade unions to work together to find practical ways of reducing fatigue at work.”

The RAIB recommended that the whole freight industry carries out a review of its fatigue management system. In addition, it said that DB Cargo and other freight companies should submit a research proposal to the Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB) to carry out more detailed analysis of incidents of the problem.

French said an effective fatigue management system should “draw on the experience of drivers”.

The RAIB also found that the Westbury depot displayed “insufficient supervision and management”. The depot had four other SPADs in 2015. Fatigue was present in two of these, although this was not ruled to be the primary cause.

The RAIB found that high management turnover and a lack of qualified driver managers contributed to problems monitoring and reporting fatigue at the depot. Drivers were also working high levels of overtime to cover staff shortages.

There were also problems with the rest facility at Acton depot. Both drivers tried to use it before their shifts, but the first driver said it was too noisy and the second one found it was already occupied.

The RAIB said that since the incidents, DB Cargo had introduced new management structures at Westbury, moved the rest facility at Acton, and given both drivers development plans with additional monitoring and assessments.

RTM contacted DB Cargo for a comment but did not receive a reply at the time of publication.

5pm UPDATE

Lee Bayliss, head of safety and risk at DB Cargo UK, said: "Fatigue is an issue we take very seriously and we have implemented robust processes and policies to manage it. This includes establishing a Fatigue Working Group to integrate best practice from the Office of Rail Regulators and the Railway Safety Standards Board in order to continually improve procedures and standards.

"Our aim is to ensure we have an engaged, responsible and safe workforce. The ability for all colleagues to openly report issues of fatigue is fundamental in constantly identifying improvements to safety standards. Therefore, this year we introduced a new, confidential Fatigue Report Form.

"We are also working closely with the RSSB, Network Rail, other train operating companies and the trade unions on a number of fatigue projects."

(Image c. Network Rail)

Have you got a story to tell? Would you like to become an RTM columnist? If so, click here.

 

 

Comments

Danial Rolph   17/07/2017 at 10:40

There is a company listed on the London Stock exchange called Seeing Machines which monitor train drivers for fatigue and mobile phone use in real time and wake them up or alert them to the distraction behaviour in real time. This tech is being introduced in cars this year (General Motors in the US) and has been in trucks and CAT mining equipment for a decade. It reduces fatigue events in trucks by over 90% and saves lives, check them out...

Add your comment

 

related

rail technology magazine tv

more videos >

latest rail news

Regional leaders call for HS2 to be completed all the way

21/06/2019Regional leaders call for HS2 to be completed all the way

HS2 must be completed all the way to the North and integrated with Northern Powerhouse Rail to achieve the maximum impact on rebalancing the UK&r... more >
Leading Women in Rail campaigner Anna Delvecchio honoured with portrait plaque at London Transport Museum

20/06/2019Leading Women in Rail campaigner Anna Delvecchio honoured with portrait plaque at London Transport Museum

Anna Delvecchio, the Rail Sector Deal co-lead and Amey’s commercial account director, has received unique recognition from the Rail Supply ... more >
Challenging perceptions of apprenticeships in the rail industry with Anna Delvecchio

20/06/2019Challenging perceptions of apprenticeships in the rail industry with Anna Delvecchio

RTM talks exclusively to one of the rising stars of the industry and Transport’s Woman of the Year 2018, Anna Delvecchio. Amey’s... more >

editor's comment

23/01/2018Out with the old...

Despite a few disappointing policy announcements, especially for the electrification aficionados amongst us, 2017 was, like Darren Caplan writes on page 20, a year generally marked by positive news for the rail industry. We polished off the iconic Ordsall Chord (p32), hit some solid milestones on Thameslink (p40), progressed on ambitious rolling stock orders (p16), and finally started moving forward on HS2 (p14) ‒ paving the way for a New Ye... read more >

rail industry focus

View all News

interviews

Advancing the rail industry with management degree apprenticeships

08/05/2019Advancing the rail industry with management degree apprenticeships

In answering the pressing questions of how current and future generations of managers can provide solutions to high-profile infrastructure projec... more >
Women in rail - is the industry on the right track?

12/03/2019Women in rail - is the industry on the right track?

RTM sits down with Samantha Smith, sole female member of the TransPennine Route Upgrade Alliance Leadership Team, to find out more about encourag... more >
TfN Strategic Transport Plan: not just for transport's sake

22/01/2019TfN Strategic Transport Plan: not just for transport's sake

Peter Molyneux, Transport for the North’s (TfN’s) strategic roads director, has been leading on the development of the seven economic... more >

last word

Encouraging youngsters to be safe on the railway

Encouraging youngsters to be safe on the railway

This summer, Arriva Group's CrossCountry and the Scout Association joined to launch a new partnership to promote rail safety among young people. ... more > more last word articles >

'the sleepers' daily blog

Apprentice to Co-leading the Rail Sector Deal

05/06/2019Apprentice to Co-leading the Rail Sector Deal

In a series of Q&A’s with key speakers on the run up to TransCityRail Midlands, we caught up with TransCityRail panellist and Amey&rsqu... more >
read more blog posts from 'the sleeper' >

comment

Challenging perceptions of apprenticeships in the rail industry with Anna Delvecchio

20/06/2019Challenging perceptions of apprenticeships in the rail industry with Anna Delvecchio

RTM talks exclusively to one of the rising stars of the industry and Transport’s Woman of the Year 2018, Anna Delvecchio. Amey’s... more >
Hitachi trains for Happy trains

10/06/2019Hitachi trains for Happy trains

ScotRail project manager Kirsty Devlin discusses the withdrawal of Class 365s, to be replaced with the brand-new Class 385 fleet. While Scot... more >
Malcolm Holmes on new stations for the Black Country

10/06/2019Malcolm Holmes on new stations for the Black Country

Malcolm Holmes, executive director of the West Midlands Rail Executive, described the new stations set to be built for the Black Country region o... more >
The skills bottleneck: Dealing with growing apprenticeship demand

10/06/2019The skills bottleneck: Dealing with growing apprenticeship demand

Richard Turner, head of apprenticeships at Network Rail, details the reasons for growing apprenticeship demand in the rail sector over the coming... more >