As part of our work to support Locomotive Services (TOC) Limited, we recently spent a day creating video footage of emergency situations that can forseeably occur when operating on the railway network. To create these sequences safely we carried out full risk assesments and safety briefings on the day to make sure that we kept everyone (and some very expensive camera equipment!) safe.
These clips will be used to support learning programmes that we are creating for drivers, firemen, guards, stewards, shunters, service personnel and traction inspectors. The learning programmes are part of the organisation's competence management system that we have developed and support the operational rules and procedures that we are working on.
The top photograph shows what happens when the locomotive suffers a 'blowback' (as happened on a charter train service at Wood Green in 2012). Blowbacks occur when combustion products from the fire are blown back into the cab - when a train passes into a tunnel or when there is a mechanical failure of some sort (as happened at Pickering on a heritage railway in 2006).
The second photograph shows the moment that a detonator (also known as fog signals) explodes under the wheel of a locomotive. Detonators are small metal devices containing a limited quantity of explosive. Detonators are placed on the running surface of a rail by the traincrew to protect approaching trains of a hazard (derailment, track maintenance work, or something fouling the line) - the wheels of a train will cause the detonator to explode and the sound will alert the driver to to stop the train immediately. As well as creating video footage of detonators being placed, and then exploding, we wanted to test how audible they would be from the footplate of steam locomotive under a range of conditions.
We are hugely grateful to the volunteers and staff at the Churnet Valley Railway for providing access to their railway, the locomotive and train, the crew for the day and for allowing us to do some very unusual things!