Ufton Nervet near miss


           I spoke to a representative of Network Rail earlier this week. He confirmed the near miss, and apologised for the mistake which led to the potentially dangerous situation.  He said they were undertaking an eqnuiry and would proceed to disciplinary action if appropriate.

              I said I understood the need for manual override of the automatic system of controls from time to  time. What I did not understand is why the manual override allowed the controller to keep the gates up whilst the train signal was green, not red. Surely even in manual override mode they should have a fail safe system so if the gates were up the signal was red. I urged them to come to new operational procedures to make manual override a safer process, by preventing all clear be given to both cars and train for the same crossing.

              Network Rail promised to look into this and report back.

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One Comment

  1. James Sutherland
    Posted September 29, 2011 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

    I read a bit about this the previous time you posted about the near-miss, and found that the main manual override procedure doesn’t require changing the signal to green: instead, the controller communicates with the driver, confirms the signal is showing red (“danger”) erroneously and it is in fact safe to proceed through the red light. Obviously they need to be able to open the gates, but I agree: even in failure scenarios, showing anything other than a red light to trains while the gates are open (or appear to be open: the gate sensor could have malfunctioned) is far more dangerous than showing a red light to trains and using the existing procedure to allow trains through safely.

    They need to be able to open the gates and set the vehicle lights to green, or at least flashing amber, but locking the train signals at danger so the driver manually checks with the controller to be sure it’s safe to proceed through the red light. If that’s followed, even with equipment failures there should be no collision.

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    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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