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Southport Reporter

Edition No. 78

Date:- 13 December 2002

Report by Keith Lumley photographs by Patrick Trollope.

SENIOR managers from Network Rail and Arriva Trains Merseyside joined forces in New Brighton today (10 December) to mark the fact that the whole Merseyrail electric train network is fully fitted with one of the most modern train safety systems in the country.

The train protection and warning system (TPWS) is specifically designed to reduce the risk and therefore the consequences, of trains not stopping at red signals and going too fast - either to stop at station buffers or on bends where there are speed limits.

Sensors fixed to the track in advance of a signal set up a magnetic field that triggers a timer on the train as it passes over it. A second sensor a few metres further on sends out another magnetic field. If the timer on the train is still running as it passes over the second field it automatically applies the brakes because it knows the train is going too fast to stop at the signal. The emergency brake application will then safely stop the train within what is known as the 'overlap.' This is a safe distance, usually approximately 200 metres beyond the signal, before which there is a risk of a collision or derailment.

Similarly, TPWS will apply the brakes if the train is going too fast as it approaches station buffers or speed restricted bends.

Under the Railway Safety Regulations 1999, TPWS must be operational by 1 January 2004. However, the rail industry and the Health & Safety Executive have been working together to accelerate this deadline and introduce the significant safety benefits sooner. Network Rail North West will have all its relevant signals fitted by the end of 2002 leaving it well on course to complete the remainder of the scheme in advance of the national programme.

Tim Clarke, Director Network Rail North West said:- "I am pleased that the entire Merseyrail network is fitted with TPWS. It should give everyone who travels on the system confidence that we are continually striving to provide a safe, reliable railway. It also means that we are well placed to finish fitting the safety system to the rest of the region ahead of the target date."

Tim Clarke, Regional Director Network Rail North West and Bob Hind, Managing Director Arriva Trains Merseyside will be available to be interviewed and to explain how the system works at New Brighton station at 1245 on Tuesday 10 December.

Network Rail owns and maintains the tracks,
signals, tunnels, bridges, viaducts, level crossings and stations of Britain's railway network. 

The company provides access to the tracks and stations for all passenger and freight trains, timetables their movements and operates the signalling as they move on the network.

Network Rail, a not-for-dividend company limited by guarantee, has no shareholders but will be run along commercial lines. Any operating surplus will be re-invested in the rail network. The innovative structure of Network Rail is designed to ensure that investment will be funded at a very low cost of capital, management incentives will be linked to system-wide performance targets, and the suggestion of putting profit before safety is removed. 

Network Rail will pursue a clear focus on its critical role of delivering engineering excellence for Britain's railway.

Tim Clark points out the track sensor as the train goes over it.

Southport Reporter is Trade Mark of Patrick Trollope.   Copyright © Patrick Trollope 2002.