A report by regulatory body the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) has found that a number of UK railway stations in southern England fail to meet lighting standards.
Tests carried out by the ORR at stations on the Southern rail network found that the brightness of lighting in some stations did not meet the required standard of 20 lux, as recorded in the Railway Group Standards Catalogue.
The ORR report was commissioned in response to the continuing dispute between rail operator GTR Southern and unions over plans to shift the responsibility for closing train doors from conductors to drivers.
The issue has provoked a spate of controversial and disruptive strike action, as rail unions Aslef and the RMT believe that the planned driver-only operation (DOO) is unsafe as drivers may not be able to see disembarking passengers on badly lit platforms.
Tests were carried out by the ORR to establish if the visibility of passengers, including small children, was clear to drivers sitting in the cab.
The ORR noted in their report that an undisclosed number of stations failed this test.
Aslef, the train driver’s union, have claimed that the view of closed-circuit television screens in cabs was not good enough after dark or in poor light. The union also claims that driver’s view of train doors was obscured when the platform was busy.
‘The report doesn’t say DOO is safe, the report only says that it can be made safe after changes are made.’
Work to upgrade the lighting on the stations that failed is now underway and Southern has given the ORR a ‘categorical assurance’ that the new DDO conditions will not be implemented until station lighting is brought up to code.
Once the lighting problems are fixed the rail regulator believes that the DDO system will be safe to operate.
‘With suitable equipment, procedures and competent staff in place, the proposed form of train dispatch intended by GTR-Southern meets legal requirements for safe operation,’ the ORR report concluded.
‘The report doesn’t say DOO is safe’, Mick Whelan, Aslef’s general secretary said in response to the findings. ‘The report only says that it can be safe after changes are made.’
'The authors of this report have swallowed whole the distorted pictures painted by Southern Rail and have limited their work to the issue of door control when there is a whole raft of safety issues that are allied to the question of driver-only operation,' Mike Cash, general secretary of RMT, commented in response to the report.
The implementation of DOO would see the scrapping of guards across nearly all Southern Rail services across Surrey, Sussex and Greater London and could mean the loss of over 400 jobs.
- This year's Lighting for Rail Conference will consider the best ways to specify lighting that complies with rail regulations. The event will see issues such as how to use lighting controls without compromising safety and how to deliver creative, innovative and safe schemes for stations. The event will take place in London on 18 May 2017 and you can find out more by clicking here.