Tuesday 14 November 2023

UIC Safety Webinar held on 8 November 2023

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The UIC safety webinar, organised by the UIC Safety Platform, took place on 8 November under the theme “Objects left on the Line”, and was attended virtually by around 65 participants across the globe.

The webinar was opened and moderated by Ali Chegini (RSSB), Chair of the UIC Safety Platform, and Frédéric Hénon, UIC Head of Operations and Safety, who gave an overview of the context, including the aims of the webinar, essential questions to be addressed and progress made so far.

This event is a continuation of last year’s webinar, which serves to share knowledge and best practice about current arrangements on how to manage the risks of leaving objects on the line, as well as effective mitigation actions. Presentations also focused on how technology, human factors and behaviour are used as strategies for managing risks.

Organised around four sessions, the webinar addressed the following topics:

Risk assessment: with speakers Marcus Dacre (RSSB) and Kurt Van Ruyskensvelde (Infrabel).
Presentations looked at the significance of the risk of objects left on the line and what railways are doing to understand and improve risk controls. The participants gained valuable insight into the strategies being developed by the railways to set the future vision for health and safety by sharing interfaces, common approaches and resources, and encouraging companies to work together to identify solutions. Objects on the line contribute to train accident risk, which can be reduced through prevention and mitigating the consequences, such as deploying a risk and evidence-based approach and using geolocated asset management technology to monitor objects on the line.

Maintenance activities: with speakers Damien Pallant (SNCF Réseau) and Malgorzata Kopczynska (PLK S.A.)
Presentations focused on the procedures and arrangements currently in place to ensure that the line is free of objects and what companies are doing to minimise large animal incursions and collisions. The EU has done a significant amount of work in terms of standards to manage this risk more effectively. However, more needs to be done to address systemic issues during maintenance activities and in the area of communication. The integration of better technology, opportunities and potential need to be explored further. Incident analysis, understanding why things happen and whether the standards are efficient, as well as identifying gaps that need to be filled and enhancing safety culture, are all essential to addressing this issue.

Lessons learned: with speaker Bart Hoogcarspel (ProRail)
The presentations focused on a number of recent high-profile accidents which highlight the importance of having procedures to ensure that maintenance plant and equipment is separated by either time or space from operational passenger and freight trains. Experience has shown that following maintenance operations, all objects left close to the line must either be secured or removed so as not to damage or even derail trains.

Innovative solutions: with speakers Darryl Hopper (REEB) and Ignacio Jardi (Ferrovial)
Presentations focused on how technological innovation can play a crucial role in improving safety and preventing incidents on the railway lines.
Examples included artificial intelligence, which can automatically detect objects left on the line, as well as geofencing technology – a location-based service, using GPS and beacons to draw virtual perimeters around a particular location or zone. The geofencing software can trigger alerts whenever an asset crosses in or out of a designated boundary.
For track workers, wearable safety devices allow them to be alerted as soon as they step out of a safe zone, defined by a virtual ‘geofence’ perimeter, and are warned through lights and vibrations when a train comes.
Testing these devices across a variety of track scenarios and operations will enable the technology to be potentially deployed on a larger scale and encourage senior leaders to identify, inspire and advise in research and development to find further solutions.

The webinar ended with a Question-and-Answer session, giving experts the opportunity to develop and exchange on the issues raised during the event.
In the closing remarks, Ali Chegini and Frédéric Hénon reminded the audience of the need for the railways to adapt to a constantly changing environment, and to make the best choices when choosing new products and technology. UIC in particular has a voice in this area through its participation in the ERJU (Europe’s Rail Joint Undertaking) system pillar.

A huge thank-you is extended to all the presenters for their fantastic work and presentations, as well as a special thank-you to all the participants for their commitment and support.

The UIC Safety team looks forward to seeing just as many, if not more, participants in future webinars on safety.

For further information please contact Virginie Papillaut, Manager – Human and Organisational Factors & Safety Culture: papillaut@uic.org

or Francisco Cabrera Jerónimo, UIC Deputy Head of Operations and Safety: cabrera@uic.org

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