Mode Rail
Reference No. RR201900010
Date reported 23 April 2019
Concern title Passenger Service Supervisors regularly breaching the ‘right of way’ procedure
Concern summary

The concern related to Passenger Service Supervisors (PSS) not manning their station at the rear of the train when the train departs every station.

Industry / Operation affected Rail: Passenger - regional
Concern subject type Rail: Other

Reporter's concern

The reporter advises that the PSS are required to man their station, located at the back carriage of the train, when the train departs every station. The PSS are required to ring a bell once the status OK light is observed, to alert the driver that all passengers are clear of the doors and that it is safe for the train to depart. The reasons PSS are required to undertake this duty from the designated station at the rear of the train is to:

  • observe the entire length of the train, ensuring all passenger doors are visible
  • utilise the bell located at this station, to alert the driver it is safe to continue
  • observe the ‘Status OK’ light located at this work station, which indicates all doors are locked
  • ensure quick and easy access to the emergency air tap should it be required, which is not fitted on all passenger doors.

The reporter has stated that PSS are regularly hanging out of unsecured passenger doors, whichever is closest to where the PSS happens to be when the train arrives at a station, to observe passengers are clear of doors, and then utilise their hand held radios to alert the driver the doors are clear. The reporter believes that PSS are doing this simply to avoid walking the length of the train from the buffet carriage where they routinely spend their time on the service, back to their station at the rear of the train. The reporter further advises that on multiple occasions, PSS have advised the driver the doors are clear and then returned inside to the buffet carriage, which does not have a safety door latch, prior to the doors being closed.

The reporter advises that this practice has become the norm and the safety risks associated with the non-compliance of the procedures include the following:

  • Not all passenger doors can be observed at the same time from the centre of the train.
  • Should a passenger attempt to board or depart after the ‘all clear’ has been given, there may be no emergency air tap available to the PSS.
  • PSS returning inside the train prior to doors being closed leaves nobody available to observe the platform.
  • PSS hanging out of unsecured doors poses a risk to the PSS.

Operator's response (Operator 1)

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on your letter regarding the REPCON Reports Reference RR201900010.

[Operator’s] [region] Management has confirmed that the issue you refer to was identified as a local issue in [Location] in late 2018. In response to this, correspondence was sent to the [Location] PSS team. Staff were reminded of the correct [Operator] Specific Procedure Right of way procedure for Guards and Passenger Service Supervisors and a copy provided. In particular the following points were emphasised:

  • Operate from your designated workstation (e.g. crew door car A or crew door car G).
  • When it is safe to proceed, give the ALL RIGHT, one long bell signal (not the radio).

In addition, Management have advised that no further reports of this nature from [Location] have been received. This is supported by incident reporting from [Operator’s] incident reporting system. This system informs the organisation's daily internal incident reporting and the incident batch file submitted to ONRSR.

If there is evidence that the issue is broader than that referred to above, please advise and [Operator] will ensure further action is taken.

The ATSB subsequently advised [Operator] that REPCON was unable to provide specific dates or locations of the reported breaches; however, the ATSB did confirm that [Location]  was not referred to, that the reported location was on the [Location 2 – Location 3] service, and that the times provided were post February 2019.

[Operator] subsequently provided the following updated response:

  • Standards Officers are reiterating the requirements to PSS’s when travelling on-board. This was effective from Friday 10 May.
  • An Information Bulletin will be communicated with all on-board staff reinforcing the applicable procedures.

Shift Managers will conduct a face-to-face reminder with their on-board staff of the above Information Bulletin when published.

Regulator's response (Regulator 1)

ONRSR has reviewed the information provided by the reporter contained within REPCON RR20180013 including the response by the rail transport operator (the accredited rail transport operator). ONRSR has sought and received further information from the operator and is satisfied that the matter is being managed through the operator’s internal corrective actions processes. ONRSR will monitor the implementation of related corrective actions through the national work program.

ATSB comment

At the time of publishing, the operator advised the ATSB of the following:

  • ‘Right of way’ requirements have been reiterated to PSS’s by Standards officers.
  • Face-to-face briefings have been conducted to applicable staff at multiple locations.
  • A General Instruction in relation to the ‘right of way’ procedure, as well as other door controls will be issued via the weekly information pack to train crew in the coming weeks, rather than communicating an information bulletin as initially advised in the REPCON. This decision follows receipt of further information received from the regulator regarding door controls more generally.

The ATSB is encouraged to see an operator taking proactive measures to address safety concerns raised through confidential reporting. The actions proposed by the operator are a good example of a best practice approach to the REPCON process.

Last update 26 July 2019