CBTC – Operational Restrictions Members Guidance


Operational Restrictions and Information Statements - the nightmare continues!

For those staff operating the CBTC system at Hammersmith and those who have worked through the introduction of TBTC on the Jubilee & Northern, you will be familiar with the ever changing lists of operational restrictions and information statements relating to the ‘Do’s and Don’ts’ of signalling and control. You will also be familiar with the continual changes every time a new software drop is delivered. What is meant to fix previous restrictions quite often imports a new raft of restrictions that staff are expected to recall from memory when operating the system, something that not even the greatest minds in the signalling community would be able to do.
It is these changes that have always concerned Health & Safety representatives, as the scope for errors to be made through oversight, rather than any ignorance of the processes, is greater than management are willing to acknowledge. 
In the past we sought to obtain management agreement that errors would be forgiven if they related to the introduction of CBTC/TBTC, and learning opportunities would be seized upon to ensure others did not make the same mistakes, however management were never willing to put pen to paper to grant a moratorium on delays and errors. It was the firmly held belief of the H&S reps that without such assurances, staff would always have a worry in the back of their minds which in itself could distract them from their safety critical tasks. 
Since we are still a long way off the full introduction of CBTC, and the Jubilee & Northern are still having stabilisation software builds delivered, it continues to fall to staff to either have an infallible encyclopedic knowledge of the restrictions or make reference to them at every turn when operating the system both in normal or degraded mode. 
It is therefore imperative to your continued job security and in order to undertake the role of operating CBTC/TBTC safely, that you must ensure you consult the Operational Restrictions and Information Statements when operating the system and having to make manual interventions which are outside the norm, for example when dealing with any failures involving trains or signalling assets. 
Yes this will take time and add delay minutes to the resolution of an incident, but in not following the correct instructions you are leaving yourself liable for disciplinary action and potentially formal legal proceedings by the ORR or BTP if your acts or ommissions lead to a breach of legislation, if someone is harmed or it is defined as a near-miss incident. 
Operational Restrictions form part of your work instructions and effectively carry the same weight as the rule books when it comes to determining whether your actions were correct. These instructions will be quoted in any formal action taken against you and it will be very hard to defend the charges if you failed to read and execute those instructions. 
Your H&S Reps will continue to pursue management to reduce the Operational Restrictions and engineer out the issues that cause them, so that the signalling systems you use progress towards being fit for purpose and aligned to a ‘business as usual’ rule set.