Mode Rail
Reference No. RR201600001
Date reported 18 January 2016
Concern title Electrification of the train access platform
Concern summary

The concern related to the continuing electrical problems at [location]

Industry / Operation affected Rail: Infrastructure
Concern subject type Rail: Operations

Reporter's concern

The reporter expressed a safety concern relating to the continuing electrical problems at the [location].

The reporter advised that recently two drivers received mild electric shocks while operating the electronic ground based warning system (GBWS) within the [location]. The GBWS is a system to warn of train movements without the requirement for the use of a train horn when entering and leaving the stabling yard. The GBWS control panel is located on raised metal platforms, which allow for easier and safer crew entry and exit from the crew compartment within the yard. The panel is a contained within a stainless steel enclosure, which should be water tight and electrically safe.

Since the electrocution of the drivers, the crew access platforms have been marked as off limits by the use of red and white striped tape, but no formal notification has been provided to train crews to notify them of the dangers involved. When entering the yards at the end of a shift, the crews were informed verbally that the platforms may be electrically live and to use the integrated side ladders to depart the train and to use their multi-coloured torches to walk through and leave the yard.

To date, the train crews have not been officially notified if there are electrically live platforms at the yard and what precautions they should be taking.

The reporter also advised that even though the GBWS system is not available to crews, a shunter has not been made available to ensure the safe arrival and departure of trains and to monitor the movement of people around moving trains.

Operator's response (Operator 1)

On Friday 15/01/16, contractors taped off some assets due to their not conforming to electrical design requirements. On Tuesday 19/01/16, after further tests, other assets were taped off. A crew update bulletin was issued on Wednesday 20/01/16 once the required tests were finalised and adequate information was available. A notice, providing interim measures to be used whilst the Ground Based Warning System (GBWS) is unavailable, was also issued to affected employees on 20/01/16.

It needs to be emphasised that appropriately qualified engineering staff have determined that the current scope of activities within [location] is safe.

It is requested that in your response to the person reporting the incident it be suggested that utilising the hazard reporting system, raising the issue with line management or a [operator] safety professional in the first instance is the recommended response to concerns of this nature.

Regulator's response (Regulator 1)

The ONRSR notes that the [location] was constructed under the accreditation of [operator 1] as part of the extension of the public transport corridor, which was handed over to [operator 2] to operate. [Operator 1] contacted ONRSR at the time of the incident and has been providing regular updates on the progress of its corrective actions, which aligns to the response provided by the ONRSR to the ATSB.

The ONRSR review of the report identified that the issue reported is of a workplace health and safety nature. However, the ONRSR notes that the issue has risen through the failures associated with the implementation of the Ground Based Warning System (GBWS) which is a warning system introduced in assisting the train crew to perform shunting operations in the stabling yard.

As of 19 February 2016, the ONRSR enquiries are summarised as follows:

  • The general power outlets (GPO) on the drivers' access steps remain isolated.
  • The condition and use of the Ground Based Warning System (GBWS) to enable trains to depart from the yard has been rectified and is available to be operated. [Operator 1] advised that it is awaiting [operator 2] crew briefings and staff notices before energising the system, and currently has an expected date of operation on 26 February 2016.
  • The overall isolation to the drivers' access steps is also stated as available to be used and is currently awaiting [operator 2] crew briefings and staff notices before removing isolation tape.
  • The yard lighting system - lighting towers remains operational.
  • Although the defect has been rectified, in discussion with [operator 2] it has been agreed that the tape on the platforms should remain in place until [operator 2’s] staff briefings are held. During this period, [operator 1] is continuing to provide a Qualified Worker to be used in place of the GBWS.

ONRSR will continue to monitor the close out of outstanding actions. In regards to the reported concerns contained within REPCON Report, management of interface between [operator 1] and [operator 2] during the operational handover of new assets is an issue that the ONRSR regularly examines and has further scheduled into our 2016 work program.

Last update 12 July 2018