Island Line Signal Box and Signallers

Our Ref: HSR/2/6
Head Office Circular: NP/224/21
25th June 2021
To: The Secretary

Dear Colleague,


I received a report from your Lead Officer as below:
The Island Line has been closed since January for upgrading work and new trains which was meant to be all finished by April but has hugely overrun. The project has installed axle counters which is a new signalling system on the Island Line.

I have been attending meetings with the Wessex Zonal Representative to help me in the signalling project as the signallers work for Island Line and not Network Rail. It took some time for the company to allow this to happen.

We have been asking for full training to be given on a live operational signalling panel or simulator on axle counters and time in the box at Ryde St Johns.

However the company are now trying to rush the final hurdle and shadow train the signallers on a panel that is not live and then be signed off by the general manager of island who does hold signalling competence however never been to signalling school. The head of operations of South Western Railway has said that he will sign the operations manager off to sign the Island Line signallers off as competence. We could have a case where the Island Signallers will be signed off by Island Line on axle counters however never signalled a train in a live situation.

It seems to myself and the Wessex Zonal Operations Representative that they are rushing this through as the project is so delayed and the consequences could be horrendous.

I therefore request that the NEC instruct the General Secretary to report urgently to the ORR and report our findings on the unsafe practices at Island Line and fully investigate before they allow the line to re-open with live traffic. Advise our signalling members to state they feel that it is not safe and not willing to be signed off as competent. Lastly, we demand that the signal box on the island line is taken control of by Network Rail as we do not believe the box is managed correctly by Island Line.

Please can you place before the NEC with the utmost Urgency.

Having considered this report, your National Executive Committee, at its meeting on 24th June 2021, resolved as follows:

That we note the report from the Lead Officer on file alerting us to a serious training issue arising from the island upgrading work in preparation for the new trains. This included new equipment to the line and those signallers need to gain competencies before safely carrying out their role. The nature of the report requires urgent attention, therefore we instruct the General Secretary to take this matter up in line with the report.

Wessex Regional Council, Branches and relevant members to be advised.

I am acting in accordance with these instructions and will keep members advised of any developments.

I advise our signalling members to state they feel that it is not safe and are not willing to be signed off as competent.

Please bring the contents of this circular to the attention of relevant members.

Yours sincerely

Michael Lynch
General Secretary