Train Evacuation Ramps

Our ref: HSR/4/5
Head Office Circular: NP/228/22
18th October 2022
To: The Secretary

Dear Colleague,


I wrote to Network Rail, the RSSB and ORR regarding train-to-train evacuation bridges as I have concerns that current arrangements could potentially lead to an accident.

What currently happens is that train equipment comes with the Mobile Operations Manager (MOM) as Network Rail considers it too heavy to carry. The arrangement therefore is that an evacuation bridge is kept at each station, and what is supposed to happen is that MOMs will go to nearest station, get the bridge and then go back to stranded train. There apparently is no training on this for MOMs.

This seems a bit shambolic and could cause accidents – particularly as ramps do not fit different types of traction.

Additionally, I am concerned that another arrangement is that passenger wheelchair ramps are being used.

I asked all the organisations whether they you aware of any agreed risk assessments regarding the use of train-to-train evacuation bridges and noted that an RSSB standard is required on this issue.

Network Rail responded that the management of stranded trains, and train evacuation where necessary, is a risk that is shared between train operators and Network Rail and that it operates closely with industry colleagues to have suitable emergency plans that can be adapted for use where necessary.

In response to my letter, the company sought some detail from routes on their local plans for deploying train evacuation ramps and the associated risk assessments (including manual handling risk assessments). There were many areas of good practice, with detailed risk assessments, sharing of TOC risk assessments and plans, and local training arrangements. That said, it did observe a few routes where there were options to improve their risk control, building on the best practice demonstrated in other regions. The company will be taking this forward through existing risk management communities and supporting routes and regions to drive continuous improvement in this area.

The company informs me that it continues to work closely with train operators at a local level to develop plans to manage stranded trains and possible train evacuations safely, and that local trade union health and safety councils could be used to request and share local risk assessments, and provide assurance that routes have adequate risk assessments and plans in place.

The RSSB responded that, whilst it believes this activity to be relatively rare, the timely deployment of a suitable boarding ramp and adherence to an associated risk assessment is essential when conducting this procedure. Equally important is the competence of the individuals undertaking the task. To this end, the RSSB will conduct some research to understand the frequency and effectiveness of this process and assess what learning can be gained from any emerging case studies.

In the short term RSSB will be tabling this issue in the next People on Trains and Stations Risk Group (PTSRG) meeting on 10th November as it believes that this would be the appropriate forum to engage with members and has representation from various TOCs, Network Rail and the ORR.

Your National Executive Committee, at its meeting on 13th October 2022, noted and adopted the following report from its Health and Safety Sub-committee:

We note the correspondence on file and also that we await a response from ORR.

The General Secretary is instructed to seek comments from RMT’s Lead Representatives in Network Rail prior to presenting our position at the forthcoming PTSRG meeting on 10th November. We note that our Health and Safety officer is already a member of this committee.

Relevant Branches and Regional Councils to be notified.

I am acting in accordance with these instructions. Please bring the contents of this circular to the attention of relevant members.

Yours sincerely

Michael Lynch
General Secretary