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Guidance published to manage risk of signalling transitions for drivers

Guidance has been released this week to help the rail industry prepare drivers for transitions between Class B (AWS and TPWS) and ETCS (European Train Control System) signalling systems.

In research released yesterday, the RSSB interviewed drivers who transition between different signalling systems and found that that though training prepared them well for routes, the increasing number of transitions coupled with drivers being placed in areas of high complexity or degraded operations risked creating confusion on which train protection system was active.

This latest guidance is designed to mitigate risk, and sets out a hazard identification and risk assessment process to assist TOCs with helping drivers with signalling transitions.

The steps of the process are defining the system, assessing risks after mitigation, monitoring effectiveness of risk control measures and a residual risk assessment.

These recommendations are also being implemented into the ERTMS (European Railway Traffic Management System) roll out programme, and it is hoped that the research will ensure risk at transitions is better understood, and allow transition design teams to identify potential issues for drivers.

The RSSB said that the research will support infrastructure managers in re-evaluating the risks in existing transition designs.

“The roll-out of ERTMS in the UK has the potential to expose drivers to transitions between ERTMS Level 2 and conventional Class B AWS/TPWS signalling operations during a journey or a work shift,” the abstract of the RSSB’s research reads.

“After the transition, there may be a period of adjustment before the driver is completely secure in the new method of operation,” it continues. “During this adjustment period, there is potential for degradation in the effectiveness of the driving task; for example, in speed management or, interpretation of and reaction to signal aspects. This may impact on performance and safety.

“This research has considered a number of transition related issues including: key risks and scenarios to be managed, the time it takes a driver to adapt to a new signalling system, the effect of the number and frequency of transitions, and the potential impact of transition borders near to infrastructure features that impact on driver workload.”

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