Guards at South West Trains are trying out a new app designed to allow rail staff to easily access the Rule Book on their smartphones, as part of an RSSB-led project.
About 800 guards are being given the trial version of the app to try out for themselves. They’re seeing how it works and will make suggestions for improvement, before it’s made available to the wider industry. If the trial is successful, a fully fledged Rule Book app will be available later in 2017.
The 120,000 rail staff responsible for operating and maintaining Britain’s railways use the Rule Book as an essential reference, as it sets out clear instructions that must be followed in certain safety critical scenarios.
Up until now, staff will have relied exclusively on either paper or downloadable “pdf” versions, but a Rule Book app will be much easier to use and update.
RSSB’s Professional Head of Operations, Gary Portsmouth said: “With an app, we will be able to access all of the content 24/7 more intuitively, making searching for specific topics easier than ever. It will also be far easier to update the content, allowing people to be notified of changes, with each amendment accompanied by an explanation of change. These benefits simply can’t be done on the traditional paper version.”
The Rule Book app will be the latest incarnation in its long history. Almost as old as the railways themselves, individual companies produced their own rules before being encouraged to adopt shared, standardised rules in 1876.