On-train camera monitors for driver controlled operation
On departure from stations, in some situations, train drivers will use an on-train camera/monitor system (OTCM). This feeds images of platform and the side of the train to in-cab monitors for the driver to view, from cameras fixed on the side of the train. This space is known as the ‘dispatch corridor’.
The OTCM will be a vital tool for the driver when in Driver Only Operation or Driver Controlled Operation, where they are taking responsibility for operating the doors and completing relevant safety checks in the process of dispatching the train and proceeding on the journey.
The Rail Industry Standard (RIS-2703-RST) sets out the requirements and industry-agreed best practice for the functions, design and testing of Driver Controlled Operation (DCO) On-Train Camera/Monitor (OTCM) systems used for dispatch from station platforms.
Up to now, this standard did not specify whether monitors should be left on during train departure or switched off.
Now the standard has been revised to provide train operators with the option to leave monitors on, and to bring the standard up-to-date and align it with the complementary recent operational and infrastructure standards (RIS-3703-TOM and RIS-7016-INS).
There’s also guidance on how to account for different door layouts, and where the position of vestibule end and the proximity of the doors to the end of the carriages may vary.
Any organisation involved in the specification, engineering, operation or maintenance of rolling stock used in DOO/DCO, including train operators, rolling stock owners and train manufacturers, should familiarise themselves with this new standard - RIS-2703-RST Issue 2.
So why leave the monitors on?
Before moving the train to leave the station, the driver will perform safety checks using the in-cab monitors to oversee the closing of the doors and check the area around them, and to get an overall view of the side of their train alongside the platform.
The most common practice is for the monitors to then switch off automatically as soon as the driver takes power to move the train, to avoid distraction.
However, the experience of some operators has shown that leaving the monitors can give the driver the chance to spot late-presenting hazards such as passengers who subsequently become trapped or harmed while the train leaves.
We conducted research to assess the impact on safety of leaving the OTCM on during departure. This found that there is no increase to the overall system risk if monitors are left on when the train is departing the platform.
This is really useful as it means the option of leaving the monitors on is now available to train operators. The monitored images provide the driver with an extra opportunity for late-presenting hazards to be spotted, but these are an added bonus and it should not be assumed that the driver can definitely spot all late-presenting hazards on departure. This has to be subject to local risk assessment and be considered as part of the bigger picture, including all the arrangements for managing risk related to train dispatch and the platform-train interface. There’s also a need to a balance this with the driver’s attention to any local operational risks which need their focus.
The updated standard alongside the research has the potential to bring some real benefits to the railway. Crucially it could help train drivers in their role as highly skilled professionals, who need to be able maintain high levels of concentration, retain information, identify and anticipate risk and have good attention to detail. Leaving cameras on could give the driver a greater sense of security, for example if they were concerned about behaviour on the platform immediately before departure. Clearly its application must be properly thought through in the specific, local context and the workforce has to be involved, but the option is now there.