The world’s first comprehensive safety study of driver monitoring technology has won sector-wide recognition, capturing top honours for the year’s Significant Safety Initiative at the Global Light Rail Awards.
LRSSB, the organisation responsible for driving light rail safety, commissioned the study from Ian Rowe Associates and they were jointly awarded the honour in the face of tough international competition.
The accolade follows a year of rigorous tests on safety systems designed to monitor driver vigilance and speed management.
LRSSB Chief Executive Carl Williams said: “While light rail remains one of the safest forms of public transport, we are determined to do everything in our power to make it even safer in future, so it’s wonderful to have this pioneering work recognised at the Global Light Rail Awards.
“This research will do a great deal to help tram operators to raise standards even higher, and it means they have a body of evidence readily available which will help them to choose and implement the most effective system for their network.”
The wide-ranging research was commissioned in response to a report by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch into the 2016 Croydon derailment and tested four Percentage of Eye Closure (PERCLOS) systems in laboratory conditions. It used simulators operated by sleep-deprived drivers during eight-hour night shifts, analysing and recording all the data uncovered.
Ian Rowe explained: “A great deal of rigorous research and testing went into our study, including recreating 5,740 individual scenarios and taking into account heights, head positions, lighting levels, so naturally we are thrilled to win this award.
“The findings of the research were presented to interested stakeholders in a series of face-to-face meetings and in a final report. Officials from the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) as well as operators and owners have been engaged with the process throughout to ensure that the project would meet their needs.”
The research into speed management focused on the experience of London Trams with their implementation of a trackside, Physical Prevention of Overspeed (PPOS) system, plus a pilot study set up in Manchester to implement the Simove augmented GPS system developed by Metro Tenerife.
After a review of the Simove system’s development and installation process, issues were identified ahead of the installation of the hardware and the creation of the speed restriction topology information.
“Live trials were conducted to establish the accuracy of the system, which was then monitored with the tram in passenger service for a further 30 days. The outputs from the system were analysed and verified against the On-Tram Monitoring and Recording (OTMR) system,” Mr Rowe added.
By tracking driver attention, and responding when signs that alertness levels may be lowering, the systems are designed to provide additional safeguards against potential risks.
“We already know that light rail is one of the safest forms of public transport, but we can never be complacent,” said Sue Byrne at the Light Rail Safety and Standards Board.
“This wide-ranging research provides a solid foundation for the adoption of systems by tram operators around the country to further raise safety standards.”
Covering four systems that scored highest in an initial study, the research was carried out on behalf of UKTram and the LRSSB by light rail consultancy Ian Rowe Associates Ltd.
All the systems use technology that monitors the percentage of eyelid closure (PERCLOS) and facial recognition techniques to detect signs of symptoms of fatigue.
Ian Rowe, Director of IRAL, explained: “The systems were subjected to a range of conditions, including different driver heights, head positions, lighting levels, eye and head ware, and facial characteristics
“In total, we tested 5740 different individual scenarios, using three test subjects.”
“Simulation of an eight-hour night shift on a tram simulator following a period of forced extreme sleep deprivation was another key component of the work, designed to induce real sleep in the driver in a controlled environment so as to establish the relative reliability of each system.”
The research was initially commissioned by UKTram and the project was completed by the LRSSB as it builds on the work of the organisation’s safety steering group. The work follows recommendations in the Rail Accident Investigation Board report into the overturning of a tram in Croydon in 2016 which resulted in seven fatalities.
“As an industry, we have taken the recommendations of the RAIB on board and are actively working to put them into practice,” Steve Duckering continued. “With an increasing number of people travelling by tram each year, reducing the risk of another tragedy is – and will remain – the industry’s top priority.
“Through continued research into new technology the LRSSB aims to provide operators with all the facts they need to make an informed decision on the most appropriate systems for their network,” he added.
For more than 25 years, Carl Williams has worked in public transport operations and maintenance and brings a wealth of experience to the Light Rail Safety and Standards Board.
Currently Director of Operations at West Midlands Metro, Mr Williams has previously held senior positions at Keolis UK, Manchester Metrolink and Sheffield Supertram.
He was also a project manager on the successful NET Phase II extension project in Nottingham and was also Managing Director of operations and maintenance company Transdev Edinburgh.
In his new role he will be responsible for helping fulfil the LRSSB’s commitment to further improving what is already one of the safest forms of public transport.
Mr Williams said: “Building on the excellent work already done by the LRSSB, alongside partners from across the sector, I’m looking forward to the challenge of taking the organisation to a new level.
“Since it was founded last year, it has already brought together a team of industry experts and safety professionals and is now well placed to lead on a wide range of initiatives that will have clear benefits for operators and the travelling public.”
Mr Williams is due to take up his new post on a part-time basis in the autumn, continuing to work for West Midlands Metro until the end of the year when he joins the LRSSB full-time.
Sue Byrne brings a wealth of experience to the Light Rail Safety and Standards Board after spending nearly 30 years in the logistics industry where she has held a number of high-profile roles.
Having worked for a diverse range of private and public sector organisations – including Asda, Coca-Cola, Premier Foods and South Central Ambulance Service – Sue is now an independent Consultant and Interim Director specialising in business transformations.
On her appointment to the non-executive post at the LRSSB she said: “The work done by the board in bringing organisations together to create consistent best practice and safety standards is invaluable, with clear benefits for both operators and the travelling public.
“I’m looking forward to the challenge of chairing an organisation that’s already made significant steps towards improving what is already one of the safest modes of transport.”
Established last year, the LRSSB is building on the substantial work already done by a safety steering group set up by UKTram – the organisation representing the country’s light rail sector.
James Hammett, UKTram Managing Director, commented: “We’re delighted to welcome Sue to the role, and her appointment is in keeping with a policy of drawing in expertise from outside the sector to provide a fresh perspective on the work being done by the organisation.
“Her broad experience complements the light rail specific expertise offered by a board of professionals from across the sector and the safety experts that make up the LRSSB team.”
An announcement on the appointment of a new LRSSB Chief Executive is expected shortly.
Work is continuing to strengthen an industry-wide safety body, despite the coronavirus lockdown.
An announcement by Government on the next round of funding secured for the Light Rail Safety and Standards Board (LRSSB) is due shortly, while the naming of the organisation’s new Chair and Chief Executive are also imminent.
The developments have been welcomed by the organisation representing the UK’s light rail sector, which helped to set up the LRSSB in response to the 2016 derailing of a tram in Croydon, which claimed the lives of seven people.
James Hammett, UKTram Managing Director, commented: “The Covid-19 outbreak has naturally been the focus of attention in recent weeks, but, in the background, a lot of work has been going on to build on the early work of the LRSSB.
“Talks have continued with the Department for Transport on future funding and securing this was key, at the same time remote interviews have been taking place to find a successor to Peter Cushing, its interim Chief Executive.
“Last year the organisation was awarded £1.5 million government funding, which has helped it to draw together safety experts from across the sector and to develop an industry risk model, a valuable online portal for sharing guidance notes and best practice.
“It has as implementing the TAIR (Tram Accident and Incident Reporting) database that had been pioneered and developed by UKTram.”
Alongside the appointment of a new CEO, the LRSSB Board is also expected to announce their new Chair.
“With additional funding secured, a new Chief Executive in post and a new Chairman appointed, the LRSSB team will be set to continue its vital work in helping to make our light rail systems even safer,” Mr Hammett added.
George Lowder the Chair of UKTram said: “following a recruitment and selection process that has been protracted by the current Coronovirus restrictions, we are in negotiation with preferred candidates for the post of Chair and Chief Executive of LRSSB.
“We have no doubt that these individuals bring exactly the right mix of leadership, industry experience, enthusiasm and passion to drive the LRSSB into the future and to the next level.”
With the support of its members, UKTram is providing the Government with important information on the response of light rail to the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak.
As the organisation representing the sector it’s working closely with the Department for Transport, which needs up-to-date intelligence on the impact of Covid-19 on vital services.
James Hammett, UKTram Managing Director, explained: “In several major cities, tramways form the backbone of local transport networks and many key workers rely on them.
“In addition to providing the DfT with information on passenger numbers and patterns of usage, we’ve been able to draw the attention of Ministers to the challenges members face in maintaining a service – including declining revenues as customer numbers fall, and potential staff shortages.”
Regular conference calls between UKTram and the DfT are ongoing as the restrictions on non-essential travel take hold, and Mr Hammett says he will continue to highlight the importance of light rail, and the support it may need.
“With the help of members, we are pleased to be able to assist the Government as we face these difficult times together,” he added.
The Tram Accident and Incident Reporting (TAIR) database has the potential to transform the way operators across the country identify, eliminate or mitigate against potential risks.
Developed by UKTram and now to be administered by the recently established Light Rail Safety and Standards Board the database builds on risk assessment work carried out on the UK’s largest tramway.
Working closely with global engineering consultancy Atkins, Manchester Metrolink will be the first to introduce the new industry developed risk analysis and modelling system that’s now at the heart of a centralised database, managed by the LRSSB.
Peter Cushing, LRSSB Chief Executive, explained: “The innovative work undertaken in Manchester and the new database we are introducing will make it much easier for operators across the country to identify, eliminate or mitigate against potential risks.
“As well as helping the sector share vital information, it will also standardise the way any incidents, including ‘near misses’, are reported, helping to build a comprehensive and robust model of potential hazards and risks that operators can use to help improve their own safety processes.
“Of course, all tramway and light rail systems have different challenges but, now the modelling system is fully operational, other networks will be able to add their own data and contribute to the most comprehensive risk management tool developed for the light rail sector in the UK.”
The LRSSB builds on the work done by UK Tram, the organisation representing the country’s light rail sector, in addressing issues highlighted by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch report into the Croydon tram derailment, which claimed the lives of seven people.
Mr Cushing adding: “Fundamentally trams are a safe mode of transport, but we can never be complacent. Reducing potential risks is a top priority for operators, and the TAIR database will provide a boost for the entire light rail sector and the millions of customers who rely on it every year.”
Set up in response to a report into the 2016 derailment of a tram in Croydon, an accident that resulted in the tragic deaths of seven people, the Light Rail Safety Standards Board (LRSSB) is now responsible for driving forward safety standards.
The organisation recently received £1.5 million government funding and is set to build on the significant work already undertaken by a safety steering group established by UK Tram – the organisation representing the country’s light rail sector.
In announcing the appointment of new LRSSB Board members, Mr Cushing, said: “Since the publication of a detailed report into the accident a great deal of work has already been undertaken to address the issues it raised.”
“The LRSSB is now well placed to take these efforts to the next level. Light rail is already one of the safest forms of public transport and we intend to help the industry improve its standards even further.”
Details of the new members of the non-executive board are as follows:
Phil Hewitt, West Midlands Metro Director – appointed as LRSSB Interim Chairman:
Phil began his career in public transport in 1988 with London Underground and eight years later he joined Transport for London, holding positions including Head of London Trams and Director of London Tramlink.
Between 2012 and 2015, as Chief Executive of Tramlink Nottingham, he oversaw the Phase 2 extension of the city’s tram network before moving to the West Midlands to lead the region’s major on-going tram network expansion programme. He is also a former Chairman of UK Tram.
Bob Morris, Chief Operating Officer for Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM)
As an Executive Director of TfGM, Bob is accountable for safety and standards and the delivery of Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s transport policies. As Chief Operating Officer he is also responsible for the delivery of a £3 billion capital programme, including the expansion of Metrolink, which has trebled in size to become the UK’s largest light rail network.
Bob is a highly respected ambassador for TfGM and the wider transport industry.
Carl Williams, Director of Operations, Midland Metro Ltd
Carl brings a wealth of operational experience to the organisation, having worked in the sector for over 25 years. In addition to fulfilling roles as director and general manager of light rail operations and maintenance subsidiaries, he’s also spent a number of years as a light rail project developer for leading UK and European public transport operators.
During his career he has held senior positions at Manchester Metrolink, Edinburgh LRT and Nottingham Express Transit.
Jonathan Fox, Director, Rail and Sponsored Services – Transport for London
Jon started his career at British Rail in 1986, undertaking various management roles before joining TfL as Director of Rail Projects in 2003. A year later he was appointed Director of Docklands Light Railway.
With the team at London Trams, Jon has led TfL’s response to the Croydon tragedy and has been instrumental in driving through recommendations contained in a Rail Accident Investigation Branch report into the accident.
David Nicholls, HSQE Director, KeolisAmey Metrolink
As HSQE Director at KeolisAmey Docklands, David led on the development and implementation of safety management systems in the business.
A Chartered Health and Safety Practitioner, David is now based at Metrolink where he brings a breadth of experience and knowledge in the management of operational risk, regulatory compliance and competence management.
Following the Board announcements, Phil Hewitt commented: “The broad experience and expertise offered by the new board members will help ensure a joined-up approach to light rail safety that will deliver significant benefits for operators and the travelling public alike.
“Our clear aim is to draw on the experiences of light rail operators in the UK and, indeed, across the world to ensure we can continue to raise the bar in terms of best practice.”
In response to a report into the 2016 derailing of a tram in Croydon – which claimed the lives of seven people – UK Tram has been leading efforts to establish a cross-sector organisation responsible for driving forward safety standards.
The funding announced today (Thursday, February 7) by Transport Minister Jesse Norman MP will see the formation of a new, independent, Light Rail Safety Standards Board (LRSSB).
James Hammett, UK Tram Managing Director, explained: “Published late in 2017, the report by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) made a number of recommendations.
“Since then our safety working group has made significant progress in addressing issues highlighted by the RAIB and laid the foundations for the new organisation.
“Now, with funding secured from the Department for Transport, we’re looking forward to seeing the next step in the evolution of the LRSSB and further improving what’s already one of the safest modes of transport.”
In the short term, the organisation will remain under the leadership of Interim Chief Executive, Peter Cushing, and he says he is looking forward to helping in the recruitment of a permanent successor in 2019.
“Funding from the DfT is a real boost for the whole light rail sector and its customers,” Peter said. “In the months ahead, we’re planning to recruit two full-time safety professionals with particular expertise in risk modelling.”
Drawing on experience and expertise from across the sector, the LRSSB will work ever more closely with the DfT and Office of Rail and Road on safety issues and securing future funding to continue its vital work.
In the meantime, the appointment of a new non-executive board will build on the work already done by members of the UK Trams safety group.
“We are committed to ensuring all the lessons are learned from the Croydon tragedy and ensuring that safety remains the number one priority as light rail becomes an increasingly important solution to urban congestion and other environmental concerns,” Peter added.