December standards changes enable over £5.5million of benefits

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Simplifying the introduction of new rolling stock and requirements for more consistent signage are just two improvements the railway is set to benefit from, in the recent changes to rail standards.

Standards are key to reducing cost and supporting economic recovery, and the December update from RSSB is predicted to realise over £5million of benefits over the next five years. The process includes an economic assessment of the change. This is a credible conservative estimate based on the minimum possible savings industry could make collectively, so the true figure is likely to be much higher.

When used appropriately, standards reduce cost, improve efficiency and enable innovation. Standards codify knowledge, capturing the learning from those who’ve gone before to avoid reinventing the wheel. 

In response to requests from the industry, overseen by elected representatives and guided by an overarching strategy, RSSB has a programme of revising existing standards and introducing new ones where there is a good case to do so.

The December changes include the following:

  • The standard for vehicle gauges has been revised to introduce new gauge profiles for 26m vehicles, revisions to lower sector gauges and a new methodology for assessing the dynamic behaviour of freight bogies, all developed from RSSB research. These changes simplify the introduction of new vehicles to the network and help better manage compatibility, reducing the need for infrastructure to be modified to accommodate some vehicles. A set of Excel® workbooks are available to simplify data capture and analysis. (GERT8073 Issue four Application of Standard Vehicle Gauges)
  • The standards addressing the design of lineside signs, the process to introduce new sign designs and the signage arrangement for permissible speeds have been revised. The changes reflect current good practice, better support the introduction of new signs and clarify the scope of National Technical Rules, contributing to more effective assurance. (GIRT7033 issue four Lineside Operational Signs: Product Requirements, RIS-0733-CCS issue one Lineside Operational Signs, RIS-0734-CCS issue 1 Signing of Permissible Speeds)
  • The proliferation of stop car markers on station platforms introduces risk of confusion, with trains not stopping where they should and the possibility of doors being released beyond the platform. Multiple signs for similar purposes also introduce avoidable costs. For the first time, a new standard sets the arrangements for railway companies to cooperate on sign positioning to better manage safety and reduce cost. (RIS 3782 TOM Issue one Car Stop Markers Provision on Station Platforms)
  • Previous guidance on axle bearing maintenance has been revised and developed into a Rail Industry Standard. This includes requirements for maintenance policies, plan and competence management and incorporates previous research on human factors analysis of axle bearing maintenance. The new standard contributes to improved safety and performance. (RIS 2646-RST Issue one Axle Bearing Maintenance)
  • RSSB has a range of standards that support the introduction of the Digital Railway. The European Train Control System (ETCS) can be used to send messages between trains and the trackside for other systems, such as automatic selective door operation and automatic traction power changeover. The first version of the standard for this functionality (known as ‘Packet 44’ due to the message protocol) was published in 2003. This third version simplifies the management of different applications and promotes the reuse of existing applications to avoid duplicating functions, which would otherwise result in more trackside equipment and greater complexity. (RIS-0784-CCS Issue two The Management of Packet 44 Applications)

RSSB’s standards are available on the RSSB website. Simply log in to access the standards and associated supporting documents including briefing notes and impact assessments. Please get in touch if you need any help with RSSB standards.

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