Section 15: Further Issues

December 7, 2015

It has come to light that following the trial of Section 15 that LUL have declared as successful, a whole further raft of issues were raised and ignored.

These included

  • Site Access Controllers at Northfields and Hatton Cross more often than not don’t have train radios or auto phones meaning that staff working at stations without phone reception on platforms must wait outside the station for their call that traction current is off and last train has departed. Leading to delays in starting work. This also means they aren’t contactable in an emergency if it should occur while in a line clear area.
  • Calls to and from Site Access Controllers are mobile phone calls and none of the safety critical messages are recorded.
  • SPC in work group is under no obligation to witness the passage of the last train or that the traction current has been discharged, just relies on an unrecorded message from Site Access Controller from Northfields or Hatton Cross that this has happened.
  • Driving to sites to sign in and out at Northfields and Hatton Cross isn’t environmentally friendly and means extra mileage plus wear and tear on vehicles.
  • A bulletin was sent that said “Section 15 is a possession protection method used during Engineering Hours that improves safety and increases the work time available on some shifts by up to 40 minutes”
  • From the list of issues above it cannot be seen how this has improved safety and from those staff involved, work time is actually significantly reduced not increased by up to 40 minutes. This is due to the time it takes to set up and remove possession and Site Access Controller to ring through the list of the SPC’s who have signed in.

Additionally, there have been further incidents raised via the Track Access Controllers

  • On Monday night 16th November we were made aware of an incident that allegedly took place in a Section 15 Possession.  POM had been granted access by SC only for support staff to find on site that traction current was still switched on; “Hatton cross to Heathrow, Both”.  If true this represents a fundamental failure of the key safety improvement “permissioning” promised by the introduction of this new procedure.
  • Monday night TAC denied access to a Train Master whose license to act in that role was out of date.   You may recall one of the TAC concerns raised about Section 15 was that SC and POM do not have the tools to check licenses are valid.  At the Tier 2 meeting on 10th September LUL told the RMT that all protection staff’s licenses are checked before being deployed to site.  Clearly that didn’t happen on Monday.  Had the Train Master been booked to work in a Section 15 Possession this would not have been detected.
  • Another concern was where Section 15 Possession limits were staggered, resulting in protection staff becoming confused about who to book on with at these locations.  Assurances were given future Possessions would have their limits aligned to prevent this happening.  This weekend there is a Section 15 Possession published:- both EB roads from Chiswick Park sub-gaps / LU boundary at Gunnersbury to Barons Court sub-gaps, then both local roads from Barons Court sub-gaps to Earls Court sub-gaps.  As a result half of the 4 tracking area is under Section 15 Possession, half in Engineering Hours.  Between Turnham Green and the Gunnersbury boundary, one road under POM’s control, the other belongs to TAC.  Worse still, a similar situation exists in the double track tunnel east of Earls Court.
  • Finally, in response to concerns that Section 15 could be used to replace EH protection, the TAC’s were told it was intended for major work packages. The Possession above is published to facilitate “point maintenance”.

The RMT is massively concerned about Section 15 Possessions and news on a ballot across LUL and Tubelines affected staff will be notified soon

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