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Zonegreen boosts safety at Northam

Cast your mind back 18 years to the beginning of the millennium. In its infancy at the time, was depot safety technology that went on to revolutionise the way we protect rail staff and equipment.

Developed by Sheffield-based Zonegreen, the Depot Personnel Protection System (DPPS) automated manual safety procedures, removing the main problem experienced to this point – human error.

In 2001, the firm’s embryonic technology caught the eye of Siemens and the newly constructed Northam facility in Southampton became the operator’s first to be fitted with DPPS.

So began a long and successful relationship that has seen the system installed at the majority of its UK depots.

Almost two decades later, Zonegreen is regarded as the go-to provider of safety technology and DPPS is renowned worldwide, following installations in the United Arab Emirates, Australia and New Zealand.

During this period, many hours and hundreds of thousands of pounds have been poured into research and development, resulting in the launch of a New Generation system in 2015, which is more user friendly than its predecessor and offers increased functionality.

Siemens has now commissioned Zonegreen to carry out a midlife overhaul on the DPPS at Northam to futureproof it, increase its functionality and enable the depot to benefit from a more dynamic operating system.

Advanced depot technology

Four roads in Northam’s main shed and four sidings roads have received Zonegreen’s midlife overhaul, which has seen them fitted with the New Generation DPPS. New powered derailers have been installed to provide physical protection for staff and they have been integrated with the depot’s existing audible and visual methods of providing vehicle movement alerts.

All roads are now equipped with the latest slimline road end panels that are used to control the DPPS and operated via personalised electronic datakeys.

Depot personnel are required to log onto the intuitive system when they begin work, creating safe zones by preventing the derailer being lowered. This blocks train movement in that area, until they log off again.

The datakeys have not been forgotten during the Northam upgrade. They too have been replaced with New Generation keys that contain advanced encryption, providing additional security and the flexibility to increase the number of users permitted to log on.

They can also be tailored to each worker, allowing those with higher level access to control vehicle movements, for example.

The latest version of Zonegreen’s Depot Manager software has been installed at the depot, to provide an overview of the system, record all activities undertaken on it and allow remote vehicle movements to be authorised on sidings roads. It contains new features that enable remote diagnostics to be completed, making it simpler to maintain the DPPS. It also offers better traceability than previous versions and makes it easier to interpret data.

Christian Fletcher, Zonegreen’s technical director, said:

“We are very proud to have such a long and productive relationship with Siemens. Feedback from its DPPS users helped us develop the New Generation system and we are pleased they will now benefit from the advances we have made.

“Following the midlife overhaul and installation of the New Generation system, we are confident that Northam’s excellent safety record will continue for many years to come. DPPS is now more resilient to the rigours of rail maintenance and easier to maintain, meaning future upgrades can be implemented seamlessly. The depot continued to operate during our five-week programme of work and it is performing perfectly under the watchful eye of our state-of-the-art technology.”

For more information about Zonegreen’s New Generation DPPS and the improvements it is
making for Siemens, telephone (0114) 230 0822 or visit


*DPPS is a registered trademark of Zonegreen.


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