Our ref: HSR/2/17
Head Office Circular: NP/201/22
16th September 2022
To: The Secretary
REMOTE CONNECTIVITY TRAIN DESPATCH TECHNOLOGY
Further to Head Office Circular NP/81/22 (RSSB T1211 PROJECT– DEFINING THE REQUIREMENTS FOR REMOTE CONNECTIVITY TRAIN DESPATCH), dated 25th March 2022, I wrote to Network Rail and TOCs in connection with the above which was aimed at assessing the case for enabling remote connectivity of train dispatch equipment by means of a portable device - and defining the system requirements.
I am concerned about the potential impact of this project on RMT members jobs and therefore wrote to seek assurances and confirmation from employers as regards the following:
- that should (after the 12-month trial) the plans for the new technology of ‘Remote Connectivity Dispatch’ devices be rolled out for live use, that there would be no loss of RMT members jobs
- that there would be no removal or dilution of the safety critical role of RMT members and that this new technology would only be used as an additional tool within our members’ respective safety critical roles
- that staff would not be utilised to use these devices as part of their respective roles if this directly encroached on the safety critical role of staff.
Network Rail replied that it was sorry that this pilot has caused RMT members such concerns.
It confirmed that dispatch staff would absolutely remain a key part of this process, as they are needed to make this technology work. There would also be no changes to current platform ‘train ready to start’/’right away’ boxes, signalling or the current dispatch procedure.
It was exploring giving the relevant dispatcher the capability to remotely press the right away button from a better position on the platform. This was to help make arrival and departure of trains safer, easier and slicker for dispatch staff.
This exploratory project was also independent to Rail Safety Standards Branch’s research into station dispatch arrangements.
London North Eastern Railway replied that it had a broad awareness of the project however at this stage was not actively involved and had no plans to vary its internal arrangements. As more information becomes known and in the event that LNER does regard this as beneficial it will arrange appropriate consultation with impacted grades.
South Eastern Railway replied that it has not been involved nor is participating in this project.
At its meeting on 15th September your National Executive Committee noted and adopted the following report from its Health and Safety sub-committee:
We note the responses from companies.
We instruct the General Secretary to link this file to the main file ‘Remote Connectivity Train Despatch Technology’.
Branches and Regional Councils to be informed.
Please bring the contents of this circular to the attention of relevant members.