New guidance aimed at reducing and managing the risks associated with stray electrical currents on tramways and other light rail systems has been published by the LRSSB.

Drawing on a wide range of existing British and International standards and sector expertise, the guidance is the latest in a series of safety documents to be made available through the organisation’s web portal.

Mark Ashmore, Safety Assurance Manager at the LRSSB, explained: “In any electrical circuit, ‘Earth’ doesn’t provide perfect insulation and any difference in voltage between the rails and nearby buried conductors can result in current ‘leakage’.

“Such stray current can cause electrolytic corrosion to nearby infrastructure such as metallic pipes carrying gas and water.”

“This latest guidance document from the LRSSB looks at the statutory obligation of scheme sponsors and operators in relation to stray current management, as well as best practice on mitigation measures.”

The new guidance also sets out a standardised process for managing the issue, including the setting up a formal stray current management strategy, and can be downloaded here

The LRSSB is inviting nominations for an unpaid Non-Executive Director to represent light rail operators on the organisation’s board.

Full details of the role, and the nomination process, are outlined in a letter from LRSSB Chief Executive Carl Williams which can be viewed by opening the link below.

LRSSB CW0009 Board Nomination Letter – 10.02.2021

 

Light rail operators across the UK are being offered the chance to benefit from the latest artificial intelligence and virtual reality research funded by the Light Rail Safety and Standards Board.

Initial trials of a new ‘hazard perception technology tool’ have proved a huge success, and now the organisation responsible for further enhancing light rail safety is rolling out the software to the wider sector.

Similar to that used by the DVLA for driving licence testing, the software is specifically designed to meet the needs of the light rail operators. It can be run on a mid-range PC (either laptop or desktop) and is now available from the LRSSB at no cost to operators.

Carl Williams, the organisation’s Chief Executive, explained: “The project and software continues to evolve, but it’s now ready to be adopted across the sector, and we hope it will help set new standards in the training and recruitment of drivers.”

The computer program is designed to immerse users in a digital virtual world where they can encounter a variety of both typical and unusual hazards in a recognisable working environment.

It’s capable of recreating a wide range of scenarios that take into account road user behaviours and the activity of less aware pedestrians to familiarise the user with unusual situations that are too difficult or dangerous to reproduce in real life.

West Midlands Metro has already participated in trials of the technology, and Anthony Stanley, the tramway’s Head of Quality, Health and Safety and the Environment, commented: “As well as providing a really useful tool for existing drivers to hone their hazard perception skills, this excellent software package is playing a significant role in our recruitment programme.

“When used in the early stage of the process, it can help us identify those with the most appropriate attitude towards risk and measure hazard perception abilities in an objective way.”

The hazard perception tool was developed following workshops set up by the LRSSB and training simulation specialists Avansim and can benefit systems of all sizes, from the smallest heritage operations through to major city-based networks.

“The LRSSB has led on the project from the start, and now the whole light rail sector can benefit from this pioneering work,” Mr Williams added.

For further details on how to obtain the hazard perception tool, please contact info@lrssb.co.uk.

The Light Rail Safety and Standards Board has published updated guidance to help sponsors of new tramway systems to meet current legislation on electromagnetic compatibility (EMC).

Before operations can begin, or new vehicles are introduced on existing systems, tests are required to ensure that the electromagnetic fields generated will not interfere with other electronic or radio equipment in the vicinity.

The latest guidance from the LRSSB outlines these tests and steps that need to be taken to ensure infrastructure and vehicles meet the latest legislation.

Mark Ashmore, Safety Assurance Manager at the LRSSB, explained: “Historically, the process for management of EMC for light rail schemes was through a Network Rail’s Infrastructure Safety Review who would issue a ‘Letter of No Objection’ in response to assurances and a management plan submitted by the scheme sponsor.

“However, the management of EMC is now set out in UK law by The Electromagnetic Compatibility Regulations 2016, and the process for approvals is managed by the Rail Safety Standards Board (RSSB).

“The new guidance from the LRSSB aims to help scheme sponsors to manage the approval process and draws on expertise from across the sector to promote best practice.”

The document, which can be downloaded here (https://lrssb.com/lrssbportal/) contains information on developing a comprehensive EMC strategy and useful information that needs to be taken into account when putting together a management plan and a useful hazard analysis.

Sector leaders have reported ‘business as usual’ for UK light rail following the country’s exit from the EU and the end of the transition period on December 31.

With most of the organisations responsible for setting international standards independent of EU institutions, both UKTram and the Light Rail Safety and Standards Board say the sector has so far been largely unaffected by Brexit.

Carl Williams, LRSSB Chief Executive, explained: “We’ve been careful to study all the implications of Brexit on ongoing efforts to further enhance light rail’s already excellent safety record, and we’ll continue to do so in the months ahead with input from professionals across the sector.

“However, the fundamental framework of our international partnerships, and the shared standards that underpin them, remain unchanged.

“The primary standards we work to sit outside, and independent of, the EU, and we’ll continue close collaboration with partners across the world to keep improving safety and to help the sector to comply with recognised international standards.”

Although Brexit may have some impact on paperwork in the future, the UK’s standards body, BSI – which the LRSSB joined in 2019 – says 85% of its 37,000 British Standards are either based on international guidelines or are ‘home-grown’. Both BSI and the Rail Safety and Standards Board will continue to represent UK heavy and light rail stakeholders through membership of all the relevant international bodies.

Across the wider sector, UKTram members have also seen a minimal impact on their operations post-Brexit.

James Hammett, the organisation’s Managing Director, commented: “While some operators have reported delays on parts deliveries, this has generally been attributed to the coronavirus pandemic rather than Brexit.

“It’s still early days, but so far we’ve seen few changes to day-to-day operations, and our own projects are primarily UK funded so are also unaffected.”

Both UKTram and the LRSSB have pledged to continue studying the details of the new European trade agreement while providing an effective voice for UK light rail at a national, European and international level.

“The UK will also continue to play a major role in other non-EU organisations which provide a platform for countries to develop industry standards, and we will, of course, keep the UK light rail sector updated on any changes,” Mr Williams said.

Mr Hammett added: “This is an ongoing process, and it may be some time before the full impact of Brexit is known, but we’ll continue to listen to our members and raise any concerns they may have with the Department for Transport.”

A comprehensive guide to tramway signage and other safety-critical markings has been published by the Light Rail Safety and Standards Board.

The latest in a series of light rail guidance documents, it draws on best practice from across the sector and previously published information.

Mark Ashmore, Safety Assurance Manager at the LRSSB, explained: “Signage and other markings have a critical role to play in light rail safety, clearly and concisely conveying vital information to tram drivers and other road users, including motorists and pedestrians.

“All traffic signs and road markings used for tramway systems must comply with various mandatory requirements, and this document highlights the regulations most relevant to light rail.”

The guidance also provides technical information on locating signage, appropriate sizing and even the reflective properties of different materials used.

Now available to download here on the LRSSB website portal, it can also be used by owners and operators of existing systems to ensure continuous improvement of their own processes.

New, updated guidance on the testing of audible warning systems has been published by the organisation responsible for further enhancing light rail safety.

Now available to download from the Light Rail Safety and Standards Board website, the document draws on the experience of professionals from across the sector to update previously published guidance.

In addition to providing vital information for organisations developing new systems, it can also be used by owners and operators of existing systems to ensure continuous improvement of their own processes.

Mark Ashmore, Safety Assurance Manager at the LRSSB, explained: “The guidance aims to ensure that the testing of audible warnings, such as tram horns, meet the requirements of light rail vehicles operating in areas they share with other road users, including pedestrians.

“Taking into account factors such as background noise and weather conditions, it also provides information on recommended frequencies and volumes for systems under test as well as the correct mounting of the equipment.”

The new guidance is the latest in a series of safety documents to be published by the LRSSB covering key elements of light rail development, operations and maintenance. Designed to help share best practice across the sector, they’ll also help operators comply with relevant safety legislation.

When published, they’ll contribute to a comprehensive library of safety documentation that’s easily accessible through a portal on the LRSSB website (https://lrssb.com/lrssbportal/).

The first of a series of training events has marked the first steps towards building a comprehensive database of risks assessments for the light rail sector.

Led by the Light Rail Safety and Standards Board, the workshops included an introduction to the BowTieXP software that’s being used to build what promises to be an invaluable tool for the sector’s health and safety professionals.

Mark Ashmore, LRSSB Safety and Assurance Manager, explained: “Drawing on the collective knowledge and experience of experts from across the sector, the database

will include risk assessments covering all aspects of light rail operations.

“Funded by the LRSSB, the project has already received a positive response from operators, with colleagues from Edinburgh, Nottingham, Manchester, Blackpool and Sheffield taking part in the first training session.”

Further workshops are planned in January, and it’s expected that representatives from all UK tram operators will receive training on the software, as a standard process and common ‘language’ is developed for database entry.

The risk assessment database is one of several projects currently being developed by the LRSSB that aim to build a central resource and comprehensive model of risk assessment, management and mitigation.

The organisation responsible for further improving light rail safety is set to play a leading role in the adoption of a sector-wide model for risk management.

Developed by the Office of Rail and Road, the Risk Management Maturity Model (RM3) 2019 aims to provide an effective tool for assessing an organisation’s ability to successfully manage health and safety risks, identify areas for improvement and provide a benchmark for year-on-year comparison.

The model, originally developed for heavy rail, has now been embraced by the Light Rail Safety and Standards Board and it’s now working closely with the ORR to ensure RM3 meets the needs of the sector it serves.

Mark Ashmore, LRSSB Safety and Assurance Manager, explained: “Following recent proposals to adopt RM3 as a minimum standard for risk management across the light rail sector, we’ll be working jointly with the ORR on future revisions.

“At the same time, we’ll be leading the roll-out of the model across the sector, and we recently held the latest of a series of workshops designed to introduce organisations to the basic principles behind the model.”

RM3 draws on other recognised standards, including BS ISO 45001:2018 (Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems), as well as the broad experience of operators and other organisations.

It provides a framework for measuring management capability in five key areas: health and safety policy, leadership and board governance; organising for control and communication; securing co-operation, competence and development for all employees; planning and implementing risk controls; and monitoring, audit and review.

“The wider adoption of RM3 will represent another significant step forward for the light rail sector as it strives to set the very highest safety standards for employees and the customers it serves,” Mark added.

Further information about the model is available by emailing MarkAshmore@UKTram.co.uk.

Artificial intelligence and virtual reality are proving a further boost to tram safety with the development of new software.

As part of a project led and funded by the Light Rail Safety and Standards Board (LRSSB), a new ‘hazard perception technology tool’, similar to that used by the DVLA for car licence testing, but specifically designed to meet the needs of the light rail sector, has been in ongoing development.

Focusing on the particular challenges of driving a guided vehicle with no steering wheel, this innovative programme is designed to immerse users in a digital virtual world. Here they can encounter a variety of both typical and unusual hazards in a recognisable working environment and the sophisticated software has been designed to be run on a mid-range PC (either laptop or desktop).

Steve Duckering, Operations Manager for UKTram – the sector’s representative organisation – is leading the project on behalf of the LRSSB and says the technology marks another significant step forward for light rail.

“Light rail systems are already one of the safest forms of public transport and clearly drivers have an important role to play in further raising standards,” he explained.

“This software, not only has the ability to provide a powerful training tool, but it can also play an important function in recruitment and competency management, helping to identify hazard perception abilities in an objective way.”

Further development, in partnership with training simulation specialists Avansim and other industry partners, will enable the re-creation of a wide range of scenarios, taking into account road user behaviours and the activity of less aware pedestrians.

The scenarios can also be used to familiarise the user with unusual situations that are too difficult or dangerous to reproduce in real life and all from the safety of a virtual world.

The AI controlled pedestrians and vehicles interact realistically with the ‘virtual’ tram to present changes to normal, but identifiable, behaviour that turns everyday activities into hazardous events.

The new software was developed following workshops set up by the LRSSB and training simulation specialists Avansim and can benefit systems of all sizes, from the smallest heritage operations through to major city-based networks.

Although the new system is still at the prototype stage, it is available for demonstration. Tram Operations Limited in Croydon put the prototype through its paces just before ‘lockdown 2’ and provided valuable feedback.