Train/Freight Company Update
The union has had responses from a number of companies to our demand to see significant improvements in cab conditions and temperatures. At this stage most reports consist of an assessment of the current position: the next step is to secure genuine and water-tight commitments for improvements ....
Both GB Railfreight and Freightliner have responded positively to the unionís demands concerning 66 locos.
GB Railfreight has told the union it is actively exploring a number of initiatives to improve the Class 66 cab environment. Specifically the company has trialled 4 pneumatically cushioned and adjustable seats manufactured by Grammer in Germany Ė and installed 2 into locomotives. The company points out the notable features including lumbar support, back rest adjustment and soft/hard damping. They have also shared their findings with DRS and shared them with Freightliner.
Freightliner has said that subject to ASLEF confirmation that the trials have been satisfactory, it plan to change the seats to this enhanced design. GB Railfreight has already committed itself to roll out this modification across its Class 66 fleet.
In addition, on a trail basis it has installed a cab cooling device, directing cool air onto the driversí upper torso. It is similar to that now used on the Victoria Line underground fleet. They are awaiting the result of the trial during the oncoming warmer weather this summer but say they are confident that it will import an effective cooling solution to the Class 66 cab. Freightliner will evaluate a fitment schedule across its fleet if the trial proves a success.
GB Railfreight currently provides bottled water and wet-wipes in the cab, has developed a cab cleaning module at Peterborough and also begun fitting side window blinds.
Full reports of progress made with all companies will be submitted to the executive this month and the updates will considered next month.
LONDON & SOUTH EASTERN RAILWAY
The company runs 4 types of electrical multiple units - 375, 376, 465 & 508's.
All these units - except 508's - have air conditioning or cab cooling. Plans are being formulated for the refurbishment of the 508 fleet. We have been consulted and some form of cab cooling will be included in this refurbishment.
There has been some progress on this issue, namely
- a cab temperature survey on all lines has been completed. This shows that the greatest temperatures are on Sub Surface Railway lines and are caused by convection and solar gain
- air conditioned mess rooms, canteens or rest rooms are being introduced in all depots
lighter, more breathable uniforms along with polo shirts and shorts have been secured
the number of water points have been increased throughout the system
flasks for cold water are now issued
- solar blinds are now fitted on 'C' Stock trains on the District and Hammersmith & City lines.
Peltier mechanical cooling units are fitted in cabs on Victoria line stock. These are mechanical spot-cooling devices which can be aimed at the face, hands and upper body.
air conditioning is fitted to all cabs with the exception of Hammersmith and City, Metropolitan and the East London lines.
- the District Line 'D Stock are being refurbished and fitted with air conditioning - 30 have already been modified.
- the proposed 'S' Stock (for all semi-subterrnean routes) and the '09' Stock on the Victoria
Line) will be provided with air conditioning capable of regulating temperatures between 18 and 24 C.
the Piccadilly line has the best provision. In addition to the benefits above, drivers are entitled to facial wipes, hand-held battery fans and the free issue of branded, chilled soft drinks. Our next challenge it to secure at least these standards for all other lines.
We have placed the issue of cab conditions and air conditioning on the joint safety agendas of each company in the district as a high priority.
FIRST GREAT WESTERN LINK
The former First Great Western Link is, following a successful trial, starting to fit the 165/166 fleet with air conditioning.
Chiltern Railways are all fully fitted.
Freightliner don't seem to have got a handle on the issue at all! The company acknowleged in a letter to the union that it was 'a difficult and emotive subject' - and then provided information that explained exactly why this should be!
The company pointed to some areas that Freightliner are addressing. They mention that they have reduced actual driving time on diagrams and that the average driving time per turn is now 5 hours and 20 minutes. Also they have helpfully produced figures showing average outside temperatures (4.7 from December to February; 8.1 from March to May; 14.8 from June to August and 10.4 from September to November - in case you're interested). Further they point out that the company has ensured drivers 'have access to a cool water supply at each depot', that 'shorts have been included in the uniform issue for Traincrew' and that they are continuing to work with the union to reduce the average working week towards 4 days.
All well and good - but the response says nothing about conditions in cabs! Perhaps they didn't understand the question?
NORTHERN COMPANY COUNCIL
The Northern Company Council reports that there is no air conditioning or air cooling on any stock - 142, 150, 153 155 156 158.
Ex First Scotrail Aberdeen health and safety rep driver Brian Wood reports that there used to be a Cab Ergonomics Committee in the company and the current H&S rep, George Studd, says it is to reconvene.
Bro Wood has reports going back to 1996, along with his predecessor, Bro J Waddell, now the EWS, Aberdeen H&S Rep - and says there are problems with all Class 15x series. These range from seats with little or no back support, little leg room, cab side windows rattling and wind noise, gang way doors leaking and cabs awash with water. The cab heaters are poorly designed and sited, there is no air conditioning and windscreen wipers and washers do not always work.
Southern listed cab conditions in July 2006 following a meeting with the LUL reps on Electrostars. We have asked, as a short-term measure, that Southern fit a Peltier system to the 456 and 319 units. The 377 and 171 units already have air conditioning and the 455 units were recently fitted with a cab cooling system as part of their half-life refurb. We await a response from the company.
We also know that the 319 units are to shortly to undergo their half-life refurb and the FCC Company Council has said it expects air conditioning to be installed. We have made a similar demand to Southern. We are considering a joint union approach
Apart from the heating/cooling issue, Southern has got a Working Party in operation dealing with the environment within 377 and 171 unit cabs. The WP includes 2 H&S reps, 2 drivers and a member of the company council. We are also involving drivers who fall outside the 5th and 95th percentile in respect of the seats on these units
Class 08 - used within the confines of North Pole International Depot for shunting purposes, currently out of service, but normally used infrequently. Not fitted with cab ventilation equipment - other than windows!
Class 73 - currently only used within the confines of North Pole International Depot for shunting purposes. Not fitted with cab ventilation equipment other than windows.
Class 37 - used for rescue and route retention purposes. Not fitted with cab ventilation equipment other than windows.
Class 373 - used for service trains from London Waterloo to Paris, Brussels, Marne la Vallee (Disneyland), the Alps and South of France. Fitted with Air Conditioning.
POLICIES, PROCEDURES AND PRACTICES RELATING TO CAB TEMPERATURES
There is nothing specific laid down regarding the use of the Class 08, 73 and 37 locomotives when extreme cab temperature are experienced.
Class 373's are covered by regulations requiring the air conditioning to be operational in the driving cab. These require the train to replaced (or turned) if the air conditioning is found to be defective in the driving cab.
Once the train is en route there is no specific procedures to deal with extreme cab temperatures.
The only policy that could be used to cover this situation is EUKL/0111 'Refusal to work on the grounds of serious and imminent danger'.
When working an international mission bottled water is available, this is collected from the train.