Safety concern regarding failures of the Automatic Train Protection (ATP) on [Operator’s] locomotives
Multiple reporters have raised a safety concern regarding continual failures of the automatic train protection (ATP) on [Operator’s] class locomotives. The reporters state that the ATP is a major risk control for enabling driver only operations (DOO). Without the ATP, two drivers are required to be rostered. The reporters state that the ATP on [multiple locomotive numbers] routinely fail. While the ATP’s start, they fail after the train departs the depot, and sometimes fail before even reaching ATP territory. However, the train is permitted to continue under DOO operations due to an extenuating circumstances clause. The reporters believe that [Operator] are relying on this clause to continue DOO despite knowing the ATP will likely fail.
The reporters state that with the number of ATP failures that are occurring, the ATP is no longer a suitable risk control for DOO. The reporters believe that two drivers need to be rostered until such time that the ATP failures are resolved. The reporters state that this issue has been ongoing for several years and despite being raised multiple times, there is no improvement to the functionality of the ATP. One reporter also advised that locomotives are being R listed (restricted use) but are still being used as a lead locomotive without dynamic brakes for extended periods.
[Operator] has recently submitted a notice of change to ONRSR as we proceed with ATP software [version] installation. This will improve reliability of the system with noted software fixes, and additionally the availability of parts due to certain fault codes. [Operator] have also been working with [track operator] on design and programming of an ATP wheel calibration test track specific to [location] yard. This will improve our repair and testing capability at [location].
[Operator] are working with our locomotive vendor on an ATP inoperability process, which is aimed at ensuring repairs and testing are completed to a standard, or the locomotive is released restricted with a physical isolation of the circuit breaker. This will be supplementary to the current controls in place of restricting locomotives to two driver operation (TDO).
In parallel to the above current state items, [Operator] has been working on an ATP modernisation project. This project concept has been presented to [track operator]. After receiving [track operator’s] positive feedback, the project has been approved and will be presented soon to ONRSR.
In conjunction with the engineering enhancements outlined above, [Operator] has within its Safety Management System a procedure which documents the operating conditions and requirements for DOO. Contained within this procedure is a section on Train Protection Systems and more specifically ATP. This procedure is readily available to all train crew and provides guidance/information to the train crew around the process if ATP fails both on route and in departing locations.
ONRSR has reviewed the reporter’s concerns and operator’s response. ONRSR is aware of this issue through its own regulatory activities and from previous REPCON reports. ONRSR confirms the operator involved notified ONRSR of the ATP software upgrade through the notification of change process. ONRSR is monitoring the progress of ATP software upgrades, ATP related occurrence data and the progress of other ATP improvement initiatives through regular stakeholder interactions. ONRSR also will also include this issue in the scope of a regulatory activity intended to be conducted in early 2023 as part of the ONRSR National Work Program.