They say nothing happens in the suburbs, but on an historic railway site in the Gosforth area of Newcastle, the finishing touches are being added to a world class maintenance depot.

November saw the first workers move into the £70 million facility that will be used to service a new fleet of 46 Stadler trains for the Nexus Tyne and Wear Metro. The engineering and maintenance teams are set to transfer in the New Year, when it will become fully operational.

Tasked with keeping staff safe from harm at the state-of-the-art facility is Sheffield-based Zonegreen, whose flagship Depot Personnel Protection System (DPPS) has been installed on four roads in the main shed and on the wheel lathe road.

The rail safety specialists were selected for the project following the successful implementation of DPPS at the Nexus South Shields training facility in 2020, where it has been safeguarding the lives of workers ever since.

 

Comprehensive protection

The 12-acre Gosforth depot comprises inspection roads and pits, cranes, jacks, test facilities, a wash plant and the aforementioned wheel lathe – plenty of opportunity for serious injury to occur!

Working with main contractor, Volker Fitzpatrick, Zonegreen has installed DPPS to allow the effective movement of vehicles around the modern facility and automate safety systems, mitigating the margin for human error that is so often the catalyst for major incidents.

DPPS provides staff with physical protection from moving trains by using powered derailers, operated by road end panels, to create safe zones in which to work. Staff log onto the system via personalised electronic RFID tags that record their location and can be set with various levels of permissions. Beacons and klaxons are also fitted to provide audible and visual warnings of vehicle movements.

DPPS has been interfaced with Gosforth’s signalling system, allowing routes to be set in and out of the depot only when it is safe to do so and no staff are logged on, seamlessly eliminating time consuming multiple stop-starts.

To prevent injury and damage to equipment, DPPS is also interlocked with various third-party apparatus, including the:

  • High-level gantries – staff are only allowed to access the gantries when a vehicle is in position on the road below, limiting the risk of falls from height.
  • Crane – vehicle movements can only take place when the crane hoist is in the safe parked position.
  • Wheel lathe – vehicle movements are prevented until the bridging rails are in place and the lathe is in a safe condition.

To further enhance safety at Gosforth, Zonegreen has implemented a treadle warning system on the underfloor cleaning road, to notify workers of imminent train movements and allow them to reach a position of safety. Finally, its Depot Manager SCADA suite of software has been installed, to provide a graphical overview of the depot protection and a permanent log of activity.

Christian Fletcher, Zonegreen’s head of engineering, said: “We have a longstanding relationship with Volker Fitzpatrick, having worked on many notable projects through the years, such as the Intercity Express depots, and it has been a pleasure to carry out this latest installation together. To know Nexus chose to work with us again, having used DPPS in South Shields, is a great endorsement of our service, demonstrating the operator’s faith in our company and the system.

“Gosforth has been designed to ensure the maximum availability and reliability of the Metro fleet and our cutting-edge technology will be playing an integral role in creating the best possible conditions for staff. Thanks to our tried and tested system, the depot will be a sector leader in the delivery of a safe, modern working environment for decades to come.”

The first of the new Stadler Metro trains will soon be entering passenger service and the remaining fleet will be delivered in phases up to 2025. When fully operational, Gosforth will be home to a range of activities, including preventative and corrective maintenance, overhauls and train presentation.

 

To find out more about DPPS or Zonegreen’s suite of depot safety systems, telephone (0114) 230 0822, visit www.zonegreen.co.uk or follow the firm on LinkedIn: Zonegreen Ltd.