Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) appointed DB ESG, the UK representative of Deutsche Bahn consultancy and engineering service unit, to deliver the tram safety improvement programme.
Under the contract, DB ESG will work in partnership with Sella Controls, and will design, install, test and commission the Driver Vigilance Devices (DVD) and Tram Overspeed Protection Systems (TOPS) to the Metrolink fleet of trams.
The Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) recommended that light rail networks deliver programmes to prevent the risk of serious accidents from tram over-speeding or driver inattention following the tragic event at Sandilands in Croydon where a tram overturned.
Metrolink trams are already fitted with a device that applies the emergency brake in the event of a driver becoming incapacitated and the signalling system has several built-in protections.
To prevent over-speeding, Metrolink’s fleet of 147 trams will be equipped with the new systems that will use GPS and other information to determine the location and speed of the tram.
The system utilises Sella Controls UK Rail approved Tracklink III and EKE Electronics TRAINNET technologies to provide the TOPS and DVD System. In the event of over-speeding, the driver will be alerted, and if there is no response the brakes will be applied automatically. The protection system will operate independently of other tram monitoring systems. To ensure drivers remain alert, an upgrade will be applied to the traction brake system and if no movement is detected input will be requested from the driver.
Since the Croydon accident, TfGM and the Metrolink operator KeolisAmey Metrolink (KAM), worked to progress the recommendations and introduced enhancements such as lower speed limits in key areas, additional hazard signage, an improved driver simulator used for training, enhanced medical standards and proactive speed monitoring.
“The safety of our customers and staff is paramount, which is why we have robust safety and assurance practices built into the design, construction, operation and maintenance of the network,” TfGM’s Head of Metrolink, Danny Vaughan, said.
The tram safety improvement programme will be applied to the UK’s largest light rail network, with more than 100 km of track and 147 vehicles, which equates to just under half (46%) of the entire tram fleet in the UK. Significant work has been done to explore new technology that will help to deliver the more complicated RAIB recommendations. This included the use of the Metrolink network to trial solutions on behalf of the newly founded Light Rail Safety and Standards Board. This research was used to develop the specifications for the systems that DB ESG will now deliver.