Technology created by Sheffield-based rail safety specialist, Zonegreen, is protecting workers at an historic Portsmouth depot from the potential risks posed by manual points.
South Western Railway’s Southsea facility is the latest to benefit from Zonegreen’s Points Converter system, which automates the levers traditionally used to alter the direction of tracks.
Working with contractors, Balfour Beatty, Zonegreen has installed a converter on Southsea’s HP01 point, to control vehicle movements in and out of its siding roads. It is now operated remotely from a post-mounted key switch panel located on a walkway around 100m away, removing the need for staff to traverse uneven terrain, alongside the third rail, to operate the point.
The system is futureproofed, enabling Southsea to add further converters if required and includes an event logging feature that allows the depot manager to record the point’s operation, for reporting and traceability.
Christian Fletcher, Zonegreen’s technical director, said: “Slips, trips and falls are far more prevalent in the rail sector than the cross-industry average and the single most common cause of major injuries in the UK. Manual hand points are a significant contributory factor to these types of incidents in depots and can result in absences from work of one to three months, costing employers and the economy millions of pounds.
“The risks posed to workers at Southsea are exacerbated by potential exposure to the live third rail when moving points – HP01 being the perfect example. By automating its operation, we have not only removed the need to access these dangerous locations, but also improved the depot’s efficiency by eliminating many of the stop/starts necessary when moving trains.