Latest Rail News

05.04.17

ORR publishes new safety guidelines for DCO trains

New safety principles on driver-controlled operation (DCO) have been published today by the ORR which establish a standard for train companies to adhere to in rolling out the measure.

The guidelines set out six high-level principles for TOCs that have moved to, or are considering moving to, DCO to take into consideration in order to keep passengers safe.

The principles state that DCO schemes need to be well planned, with appropriate implementation timescales and developed against a shared understanding of how to address and tackle any issues that may arise from this system.

Today’s guidelines come alongside a series of safety regulations laid out by the ORR that seek to inform operators, their staff and passengers about what standards should be expected for safety on trains.

Ian Prosser, chief inspector of railways, who was interviewed by RTM last year, said: “ORR’s principles are designed to give guidance to the industry about how best to plan and implement DCO.

“The most important element is planning new arrangements well in advance, talking with staff and their representatives to address concerns and ensure they are informed about the progress of plans.

“These principles reinforce our view that suitable equipment, proper procedures and competent staff must be in place for the safe implementation of DCO.”

Back in January, RTM reported that transport secretary Chris Grayling had also instructed ORR to draw up a safety framework for drive-only operated (DOO) trains, a subject that has been at the root of fierce debate between unions and operators and led to days of strikes on the rail network.

DOO would take the guard off the train and give the driver the responsibility of opening and closing carriage doors, whereas on DCO trains the driver would open and close carriage doors, but still retain a second member of staff for safety.

Aslef: DCO must be implemented safely

In the long-running dispute between unions and operators, the role of guards and drivers on trains has been hotly disputed as TOCs such as Southern, Merseyrail and Northern all try to make the switch to DOO trains – a move which unions RMT and Aslef argue would compromise customer safety.

Mick Whelan, general secretary of Aslef, commented that the principle’s recommendation to always keep passenger safety as a top priority was the right one.

“As train drivers, we want a safe, efficient, and modern railway delivering for passengers and business in Britain,” he said.

“What we don’t want to see is the safety of our railway compromised by a ruthless desire to cut costs and increase profits for the privatised train operating companies.”

Pointing to a key paragraph in the principle, Whelan stated: “Suitable equipment, proper procedures and competent staff must be in place for the safe implementation of DCO. Ian Prosser is quite right. They should be in place – and at the moment they are not.

“And they should be achieved through dialogue and partnership with the people who, every day, deliver the service for passengers. Not the bean counters in the finance department of the TOCs looking to shave costs and push up profits.”

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

Comments

Steveb   07/04/2017 at 17:00

Having worked in ticket offices before retirement, I've seen train operations at many different stations. I would support DCO because a second staff member on board gives flexibility to help passengers who need assistance in boarding or alighting, e.g. with the wheelchair ramps. Why should disabled passengers have to give 24 hours' notice that they want to travel by train? They don't have to do so when travelling by bus. The driver can most likely open the doors several seconds before the second staff member could. On the other hand, the second staff member can best give confirmation that the train is ready to leave.

Add your comment

 

related

Rail industry Focus

View all News

Comment

The challenge of completing Crossrail

05/07/2019The challenge of completing Crossrail

With a new plan now in place to deliver Crossrail, Hedley Ayres, National Audit Office manager, major projects and programmes, takes a look at ho... more >
Preparing the industry to deliver trains for the future

04/07/2019Preparing the industry to deliver trains for the future

The move to decarbonise the rail network involves shifting to cleaner modes of traction by 2050. David Clarke, technical director at the Railway ... more >

'the sleepers' blog

Maximising efficiency requires investment in data, but it’s rewards for rail could be extensive

14/11/2019Maximising efficiency requires investment in data, but it’s rewards for rail could be extensive

Rail Technology Magazine’s Matt Roberts explains the significant role data can play within the future development of the rail industry. Standing as a cornerstone of the UK transport network, the rail industry is forever striving to in... more >
read more blog posts from 'the sleeper' >

Interviews

Andrew Haines, CE of Network Rail, tells BBC News his organisation could issue future rail franchises

24/06/2019Andrew Haines, CE of Network Rail, tells BBC News his organisation could issue future rail franchises

Andrew Haines, the Chief Executive of Network Rail, has told the Today programme on Radio 4's BBC’s flagship news programme that he would not rule out his organisation issuing future r... more >
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 projects across the UK, Pearson Business School, part of... more >