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New Sentinel smart cards roll out across the network

The final roll-out of Sentinel smart cards is taking place this winter, with old cards only valid until 6 January.

The new cards under the ‘Sentinel 2’ scheme use an RFID chip and allow records to be instantly updated, as well as closer monitoring of staff hours on duty. The cards can be read by card readers or smartphones and provide detail on machinery competencies, drug and alcohol tests and hours worked.

The old system was introduced in 1999 and “technology has moved on”, Network Rail say, hence the need for a replacement.

Network Rail’s safety and sustainable development director, Gareth Llewellyn, said: “I cannot emphasise enough how important safety is to us and how committed we are to looking after the people who work with us.

“Sentinel smart cards are vital to improving our ability to do that, and they also offer a means of improving the efficiency of our operation on the ground. Being able to ensure people have the correct competences for the task will make us safer and more efficient. This is a hugely positive development for us and helps us continue to bring everyone home safe, every day.

“Our supply chain has really embraced the new card and in fact become an advocate of them. We are all working together to complete the roll-out across the country.”

Darren Gamage, technology services director at Mitie Total Security Management, which is delivering the system, spoke to RTM in detail earlier this year.

Network Rail is currently piloting proposals to overhaul its site safety rules, with these key principles:

• The line manager is ACCOUNTABLE for planning safe working practices and for appointing someone RESPONSIBLE for safe delivery of work

• One person will be responsible for safe delivery of work

• The safety management arrangements will be appropriate to the risk of the work being carried out, the hazards present at the location of the work, and the time the work is carried out

• A Permit-to-Work system will be introduced and with it clear roles and responsibilities

• Everyone will comply with the permit and the Lifesaving Rules

Network Rail has also endorsed the new SkillsID system, run by the National Skills Academy for Rail Engineering, to verify workers’ competences and qualifications.

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