A strategic approach to improving air quality
The Air Quality Strategic Framework brings together current initiatives and sets wider priorities.
Air pollution is a major public health risk, ranking alongside cancer, heart disease and obesity. It poses the single greatest environmental risk to human health.
The GB rail industry is committed to reducing overall nitrogen oxide and particulate emissions on the railway. It also wants to identify and reduce problematic concentrations in specific locations, where they may have a significant impact on health.
The rail industry’s new Air Quality Strategic Framework brings together the current industry-lead initiatives to improve air quality and reduce emissions. We consulted widely across the industry to develop the strategic framework, and we are grateful for all the information, views and comments received.
The framework provides recommendations on how to improve air quality, and forms the basis for an ongoing commitment to make rail the cleanest form of transport in the UK. To meet the identified priorities, RSSB is running the Clean Air Research (CLEAR) programme. This covers rail air quality mapping, fleet-wide assessment of rail emissions factors, and assessment of air quality at depots. The research projects will significantly improve the knowledge base by measuring, mapping and modelling rail emissions, and evaluating solutions to mitigate them.
Read the Rail Industry Air Quality Strategic Framework on our website at rssb.co.uk/air-quality.
To find out more about our research into air quality, contact James Wright, Air Quality Specialist: firstname.lastname@example.org
'This work, if implemented by the industry, should provide additional opportunity to run 9’6” container traffic [moving freight traffic from roads to rail] using traditional gauges, where it is presently restricted due to the lack of an efficiently sized gauge.’
Traction and Rolling Stock Projects Engineer, Freightliner
Standards updated with new gauges
The new freight and passenger gauges will allow more efficient use of existing infrastructure.
A programme of four research projects has led directly to new railway vehicle gauges, which will be incorporated into GERT8073 Requirements for Standard Vehicle Gauges this September.
The new freight gauges will allow operators to carry a wider range of containers on many routes. Better use will be made of existing infrastructure and wagons, without the need for costly gauge enhancement work. If the new gauges are implemented by the industry, a significant proportion of the 190,000 containers that currently travel by road each year may be available to the rail market.
The updated locomotive gauge, based on modern analysis techniques, both accommodates the most common locomotives and offers additional space for new locomotive design. This will make the introduction of new vehicles easier and cheaper.
A new 26 metre passenger vehicle gauge will reduce the costs of designing vehicles of this length. The 26m gauge completes optimisation for the most common passenger vehicle lengths: 20m, 23m and 26m.
The work is supported by guidance for freight operators and infrastructure managers, to reduce the costs of route compatibility assessment.
For the latest standards, go to catalogues.rssb.co.uk/railway-group-standards.
For more information on the four gauging projects, search sparkrail.org for:
- T1132 Development of Supplementary Freight Gauges
- T1109 Freight Suspension Analysis
- T1092 Development of a 26m Vehicle Standard Gauge
- T995 Locomotive Gauge.
Alternatively contact Paul Gray, Professional Lead, Engineering: email@example.com
Double variable rate sander retrofitting and in-service use
Double variable rate sanders fitted to Class 323 trains deliver assured braking in low adhesion.
In 2018, RSSB presented conclusive findings that the enhanced sander configuration known as double variable rate sanders (DVRS) halves stopping distances in low adhesion, compared with current fixed-rate sanders. West Midland Train drivers validated these findings in autumn 2019 with DVRS fitted to Class 323 trains, in both controlled conditions and in-service operations.
DVRS not only reduces stopping distances, but also provides consistent braking over a range of different adhesion conditions. This advance is the biggest step change in low adhesion management for the last 20 years.
On 26 March, RSSB ran a webinar that outlined the success story of this pilot; from design and system integration to installation outcomes, and finally the results. This included input from the drivers on what they thought of DVRS. Catch up with this webinar— and others in the adhesion series—at rssb.co.uk/adhesion-webinars. Download the full report at sparkrail.org (search for IMP-T1107).
The Rail Delivery Group is now working on a detailed fleet-by-fleet analysis of the business cases for retrofitting DVRS, and industry is considering options to share the costs between different parties—TOCs, ROSCOs and Network Rail. RSSB is committed to supporting these initiatives, to enable the widest possible industry take-up.
For support with taking forward DVRS in your organisation, contact Aaron Barrett, Senior Research Analyst: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Longer-term benefits from mental health training
Four ways to embed the benefits of training into your organisation.
The right training equips managers with more confidence in managing staff absence due to poor mental health and risks associated with stress at work, delivering a return on investment of £9 to every £1 spent.
Previous RSSB research showed that face-to-face and e-learning were equally effective in training line managers to support staff with mental health problems. We followed up the same group of line managers one year later to explore the best ways to embed initial learning into organisations.
- Connected line managers: line managers should not feel isolated when management challenges arise. Provide access to support and specialist advice from HR and occupational health.
- Accessible resources: have a centralised point for resources and information (including relevant company policies) that line managers can refer to. Regardless of the mode of delivery, provide materials that can be referenced after the training. Use tools that your organisation already has, such as stress risk assessments, to know what actions to put into practice. Embed processes in your organisation to assess and manage risks to mental wellbeing. Consider signing up to tools such as Mind’s Wellness Action Plan.
- Regular skills practice: think of methods beyond formal training to embed learning, such as peer learning through facilitated workshops or webinars. Try linking the learning outcomes for training to behaviours delegates can practice straight after the training. Focus on preventative skills, not just those to use when people are unwell. Role play can be useful in embedding behaviours that are needed less often, such as during disclosures of poor mental health or absence situations.
- Empowered line managers: ‘small talk’ should be seen as a valued part of the line manager role. Small exchanges and interpersonal relationships provide a setting that facilitates supportive management and employee openness. Line managers should be entrusted with making appropriate adjustments for individuals experiencing mental ill-health.
Find out more about RSSB’s research into mental health training at rssb.co.uk/mental-health-training.
Building on the research, RSSB has developed railspecific, face-to-face training packages. We are also collaborating with mental health charity Mind to offer e-learning packages with rail-specific content, at a reduced cost to industry. For further information, contact: email@example.com.