Our ref: HSR/2/19
Head Office Circular: NP/249/22
9th November 2022
To: The Secretary
NETWORK RAIL – THE ROLES OF PICOP AND HANDSIGNALLERS
Your Gloucester Branch submitted the following resolution:
Members of Gloucester Branch have grave concerns that there has been an instance in our area where an appointed PICOP has been simultaneously acting as Handsignaller opposite the signal protecting the crossover controlling movements back to the right line during Single Line Working (on the evening of 28th September between Ashchurch and Abbotswood). During one move, as a train approached in the wrong direction, with the Pilotman onboard, it was observed that the PICOP/ Handsignaller was completely absent from his position. On the following night's SLW, a RMT member acting as Pilotman refused outright to appoint the PICOP as Handsignaller (and was given to understand by on-call management that this practice of combining the two roles has been occurring elsewhere).
PICOP and Handsignaller are two entirely separate Safety Critical roles. The PICOP has a number of responsibilities within any possession and may spend a considerable amount of time involved in the passing and receiving of Safety Critical messages. The Handsignaller is appointed by the Pilotman, must thereafter work to instructions ONLY from the Signaller, and must not move from his/her position until relieved or until advised that SLW is cancelled. Their role, while less complex than that of PICOP, is absolutely vital to the safety of Single Line Working. The dangers of combining the two roles ought to be obvious.
This Branch calls on the NEC to insist that Network Rail and its contractors keep the role of PICOP and SLW Handsignallers entirely separate.
Your National Executive Committee, at its meeting on 8th November, noted and adopted the following report from its Health and Safety Sub-committee:
We note the resolution from Gloucester Branch, for which it is thanked.
The General Secretary is instructed to act in line with the resolution and write to Network Rail insisting that the company and its contractors keep the role of Person in Charge of Possession (PICOP) and Single Line Working (SLW) Handsignallers entirely separate.
The General Secretary is further instructed to commend the actions of the RMT member who refused to appoint the PICOP as Handsignaller, recognising that by doing so the individual was undertaking his/her task in the correct manner.
Branches and Regional Councils to be informed.
I am acting in line with these instructions. Please bring the contents of this circular to the attention of relevant members.