Safety concern regarding long end leading (LEL) procedures at [location]
The reporter advises that the maximum speed when shunting at [location] is 15 km/h. The driver sits on the right hand side when LEL (same side a signal 1); however, vision is restricted of the signal aspect until relatively close to the signal. Vision of [signal 2] (which allows exit from the yard to the mainline) has worse vision on approach than that of [signal 1].As a result of the restricted vision of the signals, all LEL movements are to be preceded by the [location] shunter, who is to check the track is clear and communicate the signal aspects of signals [1 & 2] by radio. However, the reporter advises that this procedure is not complied with, and the [location] bridge makes it impossible in the case of [signal 2].The reporter believes this is creating an unnecessary risk of SPADs at the signals.
[Operator] confirm the maximum speed when shunting is 15km/hr at [location]. However as part of safe train handling, drivers are trained to drive/safely handle the train to the conditions (this includes reducing speed when shunting, travelling on a caution signal aspect or slowing down to confirm signal aspects). The driver at all times has the ability to stop the train if in doubt of the next signal aspect.
The driver sits on the right-hand side when LEL, which is on the same side as [signal 1] when shunting. As per photos provided of the vision from both LHS and RHS mirrors, [signal 1] is not obstructed and visible to the driver. Additionally, there is a shunter on the ground who is cross calling to confirm signal aspects prior and during shunt movements.
[Operator] have a robust approach to SPAD prevention and adopt in cab-behaviours to reduce the risk of SPADs from occurring. Procedure [number] reinforces the safe train handling and instructs drivers to manage their train speed to ensure correct stopping distance where signal sighting is reduced through the application of Route Knowledge.
In addressing the REPCON, [Operator] provides the following summary:
- [Signal 1] and [signal 2] are visible to the crew during the shunting movement ([signal 1] is visual from +200m and [signal 2] is visual from [signal 1] (actual measured distance 182m).
- There is a shunter on the ground proceeding the shunt movement and are cross calling and confirming the signal aspect and are in constant radio communications.
- [Operator] have implemented robust controls to prevent the risk of SPADs from occurring.
- Driver has the ability to stop 50m short of [signal 2] as per in-cab behaviours and training.
- All drivers are trained in SPAD prevention and mitigation, in-cab behaviours and risk triggered commentary to provide the skills to be able to safely handle the train.
[Operator] reinforces that they do not expect any driver to not adhere to safe train handling rules and procedures and encourage drivers to report any known hazards, so [Operator] can be in the best position to address and continually deliver improvements in safety.
ONRSR confirms it has received ATSB REPCON report number RR2021-00071, dated 13 October 2021 regarding long end leading at [location] yard. ONRSR has reviewed the reporter’s concerns and operator’s response including additional supporting documentation. The contents of this REPCON report are being considered in the scoping of a regulatory activity, planned to be conducted as part of the ONRSR 2021/22 National Work Program.