Track level picture of Zonegreen equipment installed on the track at a depot, with an Intercity Express Train approaching slowly

Tyne and Wear Metro is latest green for go with Zonegreen safety tech

Integrated systems with mechanical technology like this derailer is part of the package of safety measures installed by Zonegreen Zonegreen

Sheffield-based rail safety pioneers Zonegreen have put their Depot Personnel Protection System (DPPS) on alert at the brand new Gosforth Metro depot in Newcastle. The 70 million pound (82 million euro) Gosforth depot serves the Tyne and Wear Metro system around Newcastle and Sunderland. The Instalation is part of a racial revamp of the system. Zonegreen has weighed in with the latest iteration of its DPPS hardware to safeguard the lives of rail workers.

Collaborating closely with main contractor Volker Fitzpatrick, Zonegreen has integrated the DPPS technology into four roads within the main shed at Gosforth, as well as the wheel lathe road, across the expansive 12-acre depot. This innovation empowers trackside personnel through powered derailers, controlled by road end panels, effectively establishing secure work zones. Put in tandem with Gosforth’s advanced signalling system, DPPS should ensure vehicle movements occur only when it is deemed safe for Tyne and Wear Metro.

Permanent activity log

It’s been about two centuries since trains were first controlled by signals, and only allowed to move when conditions were safe. As for those free-spirited railway workers, it’s a different matter – until now. While the integrated signalling system facilitates smooth and uninterrupted entry and exit of trains, eliminating time-consuming stops and starts, eliminating the unsafe movements of maintenance staff requires a little more sophistication.

That’s where Zonegreen come in. Their system is intricately linked with various third-party equipment, including high-level gantries, cranes, wheel lathes, and jacks, acting as a barrier against damage and safeguarding staff from potential injuries.

Female worker in safety gear operates the control panel of a Zonegreen system
Pushing all the right buttons. Zonegreen’s integrated safety systems make life a lot easier out on the tracks

Zonegreen has also implemented a treadle warning system on Gosforth’s underfloor cleaning road, offering timely notifications to workers about impending train movements. This allows them to promptly reach a position of safety (a technical term for ‘getting out of the way’). To enhance operational oversight, the Depot Manager SCADA suite of software has been deployed. This provides a comprehensive graphical representation of the depot’s protection measures and maintaining a permanent activity log. The controller, fat or otherwise, is watching – and all for a good reason.

Tried and tested technology

“We have a longstanding relationship with Volker Fitzpatrick”, said Christian Fletcher, Zonegreen’s Head of Engineering. “[We’ve] worked together for many years on notable projects such as the Intercity Express depots, and it has been a pleasure to carry out this latest installation. Gosforth is now a world class facility that will not only transform how trains are maintained, but thanks to our tried and tested technology, will also be a sector leader in the creation of a safe, modern working environment.”

The comprehensive redevelopment of Gosforth depot has been undertaken in preparation for a fleet of 46 new Stadler trains, scheduled to commence operation on the Nexus Tyne and Wear Metro this autumn. Zonegreen’s involvement in the project follows the successful implementation of DPPS at the Nexus South Shields depot, where it has been ensuring the safety of staff since 2020.

Author: Simon Walton

Simon Walton is UK correspondent for RailTech.com and Railfreight.com

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