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RHDR - Serious operating irregularity at Romney Sands

Discussion in 'Narrow Gauge Railways' started by mdewell, Sep 13, 2019.

  1. mdewell

    mdewell Member

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    From a report on the RAIB website

    "At around 10:35 hrs on 28 August 2019, a train from Dungeness to Hythe left Romney Sands station and entered the single line section to New Romney. A train from Hythe to Dungeness was in the same section, travelling in the opposite direction. The two trains came to a stand about 316 metres apart."
    https://www.gov.uk/government/news/serious-operating-irregularity-at-romney-sands
     
  2. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Part of the furniture

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    Oh Dear
     
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  3. paulhitch

    paulhitch Part of the furniture

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    Report is now out. It is more like Abermule (which is quoted) than I feared. Had it not been for radio communication it might have been more tragically similar.
     
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  4. 45669

    45669 Member

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    There are so many worrying factors here. One can understand a trainee, not familiar with the staff and ticket system, simply following instructions and doing what he was told by writing out the ticket. However, he could, indeed should, have double checked with the senior member of staff to see whether he was doing the right thing.

    But even more worrying is the driver accepting the ticket without asking to see the token to which it applied, and the qualified stationmaster overseeing the whole event without realising that the token for the section was not in their possession.

    However, having the tickets in a locked box openable only by a key chained to the token should prevent such an incident happening again. One can't help wondering whether a situation like this could arise on any other heritage railway; they are all, wholly or partially, single lines. Hopefully, operating managers and signalling staff will be making sure that they, too, have suitable safeguards in place to prevent it.
     
  5. 35B

    35B Part of the furniture

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    I also think there's something about team culture - the trainee was a trainee in role, but otherwise experienced at the railway. To me the key phrase in the Digest is the "jovial and informal conversation between the three members of staff" when the ticket was being handed over.
     
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  6. pmh_74

    pmh_74 Member

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  7. Sheff

    Sheff Well-Known Member

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    A very important factor and learning point here is that in both cases the planned timetable operation had been disrupted. Accidents are more likely when a well-practiced routine is disrupted.
     
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  8. mdewell

    mdewell Member

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    The problem with a well-practised routine is that people tend to learn the routine without necessarily understanding the reasoning behind it. When things go out of routine, they are then more concerned with re-establishing the routine (e.g. getting trains on the move a.s.a.p) than considering the issues that the routine is intended to handle (e.g. not allowing trains to leave until you have confirmation that it is safe to do so).
     
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  9. Robert F

    Robert F New Member

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  10. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Part of the furniture

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    What I find so suprising is that given the obvious dangers of single line working, in both that case and especially the German one a rather casual attitude was shown by those involved.
     
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  11. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    Not sure I'd agree with that. The outcome was similar (collision / near collision on a single line) but in the German case, there is nothing - at least on the linked page - to say what the specific cause was.

    As for the Romney Incident - that's uncomfortable reading. The similarity with Abermule is well drawn.

    Tom
     
  12. huochemi

    huochemi Member Friend

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    Perhaps it's a 15" gauge thing. https://www.railwaysarchive.co.uk/documents/DoT_GilbertsCutting1976.pdf
     
  13. jma1009

    jma1009 Member

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    I am not too sure the RAIB report is a full report, and as a report seems to fail to understand the staff and ticket system...

    If train 5 had the red staff/token, Control should never have authorised the issuing of a red ticket to train 12. Control was in effect the signaller. Control must or ought to have known where the red staff/token was, and it must have been with the driver of train 5 from New Romney.

    The report really ought also to have dealt with the (to me) serious failings of Control acting as both train planner and a signalling centre.

    Furthermore the report is unclear as to where train 12 and train 5 were due to cross originally - I presume New Romney - but this is not made clear.

    Cheers,
    Julian
     
  14. 35B

    35B Part of the furniture

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    The report is a safety digest, and not a full report, which would typically be 40+ pages long. As such, it is very much briefer in it's account of what happened than a full report would have been, meaning that some points are not explored fully. At that macro level - and I sincerely hope that a lot more detailed work is obscured by this very brief digest - I suggest that the role of Control and the signaller is swept up in recommendation (a).
     
  15. andrewshimmin

    andrewshimmin Well-Known Member

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    Julian,
    I would assume the RAIB understand signalling perfectly well.
    Even from a casual glance through the report, it seems to me clear that the ticket was supposed to be issued to train 12 when the stationmaster at Romney Sands saw (and indeed held on to) the staff from train 5. The staff would then be retained for whichever train was to follow train 12 through the section.
    The error was for the ticket to be made out by the trainee, because he heard on the phone that it was needed, forgetting that he mustn't do this before he saw (or had) the staff.
    Presumably, in the rush at the booking office, he forgot himself for a moment, and/or thought it would save time to make out the ticket then and there, and take it to the platform to be handed over when train 5 arrived.
    Let's be absolutely clear: the biggest cause of accidents is people who think only stupid people have/cause accidents. Accidents happen when people who would normally be perfectly competent have a momentary lapse, if the system isn't failsafe to prevent this occuring. Hence the importance of the safe system of work.
    Every accident (or near miss) should have each of us thinking not "that would never happen to me, because I know what I'm doing" but both "there but for the grace of God" and "thank goodness for failsafe systems: let's just double check ours is failsafe".

    Sent from my Pixel 3a using Tapatalk
     
  16. jma1009

    jma1009 Member

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    Thank you 35B for the clarification.

    However, as a 'safety digest' and summary, the report ignores the failings of Control, which to me, seem to be as serious if not more serious than what happened among the Stationmaster and trainee Stationmaster, and the driver of train 12 at Romney Sands.
     
  17. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Part of the furniture

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    Whatever else happened however ticket or no ticket the train should not have proceeded without the driver being shown the token
     
  18. jma1009

    jma1009 Member

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    andrewshimmin, with respect, your post ignores the obvious, that if train 5 had the red token, and was crossing train 15 (which had the green token) at Romney Sands, there was no need for a red ticket to be instructed by Control to be issued for train 12.

    Cheers,
    Julian
     
  19. Paul42

    Paul42 Member

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    Julian
    If the next train through the Romney Sands - New Romney section after train 12 was train 5 on its way back from Dungeness, train 12 would require a red ticket, while train 5 would taken the red token. The briefing mention a delay to a train elsewhere on the line.
     
  20. lil Bear

    lil Bear Member

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    Do we know control "failed"? Is it their duty to authorise/issue the staff + ticket operation, or are they just to lay out the plan and then it is for the men on the ground to do their jobs? This isn't confirmed within the latest report, and is the difference between your comment being valid / non-valid.

    Way I've read the report, Control issues the plan for any timetable alterations. The signaller/station team them implement this following the procedures they've signed regarding their rules. Control never have any direct involvement in the implementation of staff & ticket operation.

    Sadly the introduction of staff/ticket failed in this situation, though fortunately no harm came because of it.
     
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