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Mid Hants Railway Operational Matters

Discussion in 'Heritage Railways & Centres in the UK' started by NightRail, Jan 11, 2017.

  1. Footbridge

    Footbridge Member

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    Re the cancelled walk the line, what has changed since previous years. Was there an incident.
    I will donate a few quid instead and an added benefit is that I get to stay dry this year.
     
  2. 6960 Raveningham Hall

    6960 Raveningham Hall Member Friend

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    A very good question and one that I had been pondering. After all, I think I’m right in saying that the event had taken place annually for almost 30 years.

    I suspect that all the H & S discussion has masked the real reason for the cancellation. Could it be that the recent passing of the event organiser is, as has already been suggested, of great significance?
     
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  3. cct man

    cct man New Member

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    Well said that man
     
  4. MellishR

    MellishR Well-Known Member Friend

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    I said it was a "presentation" but I think the right word would have been "seminar". It was given to the HSE by a US expert on risk communication. It's no good the HSE (or a project manager) saying that a risk is tolerable on the basis of likelihood and severity if Joe Schmoe, influenced by some of those other factors, considers it to be intolerable. Think, for example, of nuclear power, which some think we desperately need more of to reduce CO2 emissions while others want it done away with.

    Anyway that is a bit of a digression. The crucial question regarding the line walk is what change since last time has prompted the decision to cancel. Has the risk of someone being injured increased? Has the risk of someone being injured and taking legal action increased? Or has the railway's management just become more risk-averse?
     
  5. domeyhead

    domeyhead New Member

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    I agree with your second paragraph. I think it summarises succinctly the questions that will hopefully be answered in the next edition of the Mid Hants News. The first paragraph describes the basis for Cost Benefit analysis - the Joe Schmoes of this world will unfortunately never be persuaded by the consistency of applying the same method to different situations, which is why HS2 has turned into one long uniformed bunfight but that's another story!
     
  6. 73129

    73129 Member

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    On another note I see the mid hants railway agm is being held at Alresford goods shed on Saturday November 2nd at 18.30.
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2019
  7. 21B

    21B Well-Known Member

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    The decision to cancel the "Walk the Line Event" has nothing whatever to do with any consultant. Nor is it a reaction to any perception of an increased risk of being sued, a matter which never once figured in the discussion.

    This decision is rooted in a reevaluation of the existing risk assessment. The principle issue is one of evacuation of an injured person from the railway, which for significant sections of the line would be at best extremely challenging without using a rail vehicle, which would negate the principle mitigation that allows untrained and unsupervised people to be on the line by removing rail vehicles. We thought about helicopters, ladders at strategic points and other steps, but nothing was practical.

    Another factor in the decision was the guidance from Her Majesties Railway Inspector (they are still that even now they are part of the ORR). They do not approve of these events.

    Anyone who wants more information is welcome to pm me or put the question to the board at the AGM or any other opportunity. Many will be on the railway this coming weekend.
     
  8. domeyhead

    domeyhead New Member

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    If that is so then it is a poor decision. Not only has nothing materially changed between this and all other previous sponsored walks, but there is also nothing significantly different between this and countless sponsored events run all over the country in all manner of remote locations. In this case even in the event of a severe event such as a cardiac arrest the unfortunate victim would be no more than 3 miles from possible rescue which in the scheme of relative risk would still render them considerably less at risk than if they were at sea on a pleasure or fishing trip, so it would be no surprise if for example the SS Shieldhall would never put to sea again nor any other manner of pleasure vessel. Even on the railway the "re-evaluation of the existing risk assessment" is something that could be done for other events such as the Real Ale Train (where a fatality has already occurred and where the conditions for a similar tragedy still exist. Will you be re-assessing that as well, and if not, why not? Perhaps some risk consultancy might not have been such a bad idea, as it may have put some proper perspective on overt risk aversion.
     
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  9. martin1656

    martin1656 Part of the furniture Friend

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    Often in many cases its not so much health and safety that insist on what might be called draconian measures but often its an request from the insurance company and increasing of the cost of cover required to have such an event that sinks it, insurance companies are by their nature risk adverse, and where as before an experienced assessor would understand that some risks can never be fully factored out, these days its often the computer that says no, or spews out a cost that is just not acceptable
     
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  10. domeyhead

    domeyhead New Member

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    I agree with everything you say Martin. However we have a situation where not one person would have wanted the event cancelled, not one participant felt at risk, and not one person participating would claim for a second that cancelling it vicariously should be done "in their interests". Not one person would in actual fact be more at risk if sensible precautions are taken. In all of this we have not yet mentioned negligence. Yes disclaimers do not absolve the railway of its duty of care but at the same time to accept the rightness of this cancellation we have to construct an avatar of someone giving up their time to support the railway who then following some accident or injury becomes an aggressive litigant demanding damages. In this case they still have to show negligence on the part of the railway and its officers and organisers. The event has always been well run, and could further safeguard walkers with both a safety code (eg walk opposite any signal cables, do not walk on ballast etc ) and some well placed cones eg around points. If someone is going to have a heart attack it is not the railway that has caused it if they have a preexisting condition, and here I speak as someone who had open heart surgery just 8 weeks ago for a valve replacement, and I would have happily undertaken the walk at my own risk. Regarding the "Computer says No" argument which I fully accept, the railway has the management task of resolving this with through various means, from a different insurer or with a series of mitigations, but the pursuit of absolute risk avoidance is the path to a sterile declining "watch behind the fence" future. If dear Robin Higgs was still with us I'd like to think his wise counsel would have resolved this, because talk of helicopters shows a discussion that has spiralled to the outer perimeter of improbability, to a silly place where even travelling to the railway becomes a "risk". Of course HMRI (ORR) do not "approve" of events like this. Neither do they disapprove. My own dealings with Government Agencies have taught me not to expect the slightest encouragement for any initiative. The sponsored walk is one of the best ways that the greater army of non volunteer wellwisher members feel they are contributing to the wellbeing of the railway, apart from the £10k+ raised every year, this goodwill is vital. I am seriously unimpressed with the lack of personal accountability shown in announcements, which suggests nobody is willing to "own" this decision - instead we must assume it is a faceless committee decision. If the AGM was not upon us I doubt whether anyone would willingly stand up to scrutiny on this. Perhaps I am alone in being so animated about this but such nonsensical risk aversion has to be dragged into the daylight to let everyone examine the decision making process for themselves.
     
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2019
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  11. cct man

    cct man New Member

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    Domeyhead,you have nailed it in one. I am not the only one that feels this way
     
  12. 21B

    21B Well-Known Member

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    All risk assessments are continually under review. There is no correlation between the very sad events on the RAT some years ago and this event, nor is there much connection with shieldhall. As regards other sponsored events each has it's own risks and possible mitigation steps. Each event needs to be looked at as a unique thing. This was done here and the answer is not one you like, I dont much like it either, but pending some new evidence or approach here we are.

    Sent from my SM-A405FN using Tapatalk
     
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  13. Dunfanaghy Road

    Dunfanaghy Road New Member

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    Back to the bridge.
    I saw a RRV crossing the bridge ON RAILS this afternoon. It was dropping ballast by the bucket-load. Tamping still to happen, and the S&T re-connections and testing. Still, progress.
    Pat
     
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  14. 73129

    73129 Member

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    I popped in to Alton again today and noticed workers shovelling what sounded like ballast being moved around on top of the bridge. Plus I noticed there is still some concrete to be poured. Which can be seen next to the top of the scaffolding. In this photo.
    27439CB6-B675-4A6D-8E1F-B95DCD5FCF8D.jpeg
     
  15. domeyhead

    domeyhead New Member

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    Of course there is a correlation, 21B, but before I share my opinion, can I thank you for coming on to offer clarification on this matter, which I think is appreciated by everyone reading this, including me. You indicate that perhaps you also had concerns so please be reassured that I am speaking through you, not necessarily to you in expressing frustration.
     
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  16. MellishR

    MellishR Well-Known Member Friend

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    In that picture the bridge looks wider than the concrete viaduct in front of it. Is that the case?
     
  17. Dunfanaghy Road

    Dunfanaghy Road New Member

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    The abutment, London end and Down side, is the same width as the span, and if you look carefully I think you can just make out a bearing (look below the middle deck of the scaffold), although a second look makes me doubtful of that. The concrete nearer the camera is a retaining wall holding up one side of the fill between the new bridge (Bridge 52) and the old iron bridge (Bridge 51). The Up side is a slope. Before the dozers moved in the retaining wall was brick, leaning in slightly towards the top as the stub next to Bridge 51's abutment shows.
    Pat
     
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  18. domeyhead

    domeyhead New Member

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    ok as I was saying events are unique but risks are not. A risk is a quantifiable and comparable expression of the hazard embodied in the event rather than the event itself, whether unique or not, so for instance the probability of someone collapsing on the walk is low (historically) but the impact could be very high, whereas the probability of someone tripping on the walk and injuring a leg could be high, but the impact is low. Similarly the probability of somebody seriously injuring themselves through intoxication while trying to rejoin the Real Ale Train my be low, but again the impact is of course very high. Tragically so in one case. All the identified risks in an event are so assessed in a consistent manner and the overall event can then also be assessed against the organisation's risk acceptance policy. My frustration is that somebody for whatever appears to have decided that the risk of requiring an evacuation on the walk is unacceptably high and the probability is also so high as to be unavoidable, which is nonsense and that therefore no mitigation short of a fleet of ambulances and paramedics is possible. That is not assessment, it is aversion, and risk aversion is the very antithesis of risk assessment. It may be that a whole series of smaller risks have been identified which together could not be mitigated in time and therefore rendering the event untenable but I don't think this is so. Regarding evacuation, Hampshire is a rural county with many locations far from conventional ambulance access, especially in forest pursuits. The railway's accessibility by helicopter is not nearly as difficult as seems to have been made out - I have watched from my hospital bed the Hampshire Air Ambulance land on top of the multi-storey car park at Southampton General many times while skilfully avoiding wires, aerials downdrafts on people and buildings. An aerial view of the Mid Hants shows that open fields line virtually the entire route, and landing in an open field is not an issue for the pilots, so the notion of no helicopter access looks to have been overstated. However I am more interested in whether the overall risk assessment has been conducted objectively and using the organisation's attitude to risk as a guideline, and not swayed by personal perception that any risk is of itself a show stopper - because the outcome here is clearly one that nobody claims to support, yet we are expected to all stand around helplessly pointing to a series of minutes describing the outcome but which give no indication of the method, the sums or the process followed. I hope that such a spreadsheet containing the analysis and the arithmetic exists and is made available to members and shareholders this week so that due diligence can be seen to be done - or this is going to happen again and again - and sadly other sponsored walks on other lines will also find themselves victims of this precedent.
     
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2019
  19. martin1656

    martin1656 Part of the furniture Friend

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    Sounds to me like after the passing of Robin Higgs, who had a wealth of contacts and knowledge on how to side step possible risks and how to use common sence solutions, its now in the too hard category because those now making decisions do not have his expertise, So of course its now seen as being too great a risk, this of course impacts on everything else, as people now placed with making decisions , who i'm sure are doing their best find that how things may have been done, are not now agreeable, it could be that insurers, risk assessors trusted Robin's experience, and allowed things to happen because his solutions were accepted, where as now, those same people now are following their own rule books and interpreting risks as per the book, so with people who cant side step regulations will of course accept what the assessors say.
     
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  20. MellishR

    MellishR Well-Known Member Friend

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    It is that, the concrete nearer the camera, that looks narrower than the new bridge, with a step outward to the new concrete abutment.
     

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