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Home Safety Delivering Safety to the UK Rail Network

Delivering Safety to the UK Rail Network

Serco Rail Technical Services provides a platform to safety for both its colleagues and customers. The team explains more:

It’s vital that organisations are aware of the associated risks of operating in the railway or engineering environments and actively work towards implementing safe working practices.

For Serco Rail Technical Services (SRTS), protecting their staff and providing a safe working environment is a key priority.  Second to that is how the services SRTS are delivering to their customers are contributing to a safer rail network and in-service assets.


The obvious hazard when working on the rail network is being struck by a train, but for those who work on the railway other hazards include slips, trips, and falls from items and terrain in depots and yards, mobile equipment, falls from height, electrocution from both overhead and ground supply, striking against objects whilst under or around vehicles and many more.

Among the safety measures to prevent these risks includes high-visibility workwear, safety boots, glasses, head protection, gloves, training, inductions, hazard awareness, procedures, and competence. Risk assessments are undertaken prior to work being carried out and remain under review throughout the entirety of a project.

Another key factor is how to manage fatigue of safety critical staff which involves people working to defined hours with exceedances of these hours only occurring in exceptional circumstances and in a controlled and assessed manner. In addition to management controls, physical measures can also be implemented such as track derailers, barriers, warning systems, fall prevention systems and Lock Out Tag Out (LOTO) processes. Only once these are implemented can work proceed safely.

These hazards and safety measures are associated with people being in or around the rail network and environment. However, safety is a key factor and plays a crucial role for the rail vehicles and infrastructure that are in-service, it also includes the safe operation and maintenance of these assets.

SRTS plays a significant role in providing services that enable rail vehicles and infrastructure to be maintained and repaired, ensuring they continue to operate safely for many years, services include:

  • Vehicle and infrastructure testing, certification, and monitoring  
  • Non-destructive testing of wheels, axles, and rail
  • Metallurgical analysis and investigation
  • Bearing inspections
  • A dedicated training school providing safety critical training and examination.  

Providing bespoke packages of working, including vehicle and infrastructure testing, overhead line and pantograph performance certification, strain gauging and condition monitoring. The Engineering Services team provide and deliver key services where safety is a key driver, it enables performance to be accurately monitored allowing for data to be gathered and interpreted allowing governance and compliance requirements to be met.

The SRTS field engineers carry out inspections of rail vehicle wheels and axles using ultrasonic tests in a safe and reliable way identifying and locating cracks, flaws and defects that could lead to significant component failure, a preventative asset management approach. It allows assets to be quickly and accurately evaluated without impacting operations, causing downtime, or affecting the integrity, reliability, structure, or quality of an asset.

SRTS are extremely fortunate to have their own metallurgical laboratory and test facility that enables them to provide a wide range of component metallurgical analysis and material suitability advice services. By working closely with their customers, they help them understand how components interact and determine the root cause of defects to improve operational and asset performance. This contributes to reducing maintenance costs whilst extending the life of assets in service, preventative actions can then be implemented to reduce repeat failures.

The condition of bearings is crucial to the safe riding of a rail vehicle, poor maintenance, defects, or damage to these components can be the cause of derailments and/or damage to both the track and the vehicle. SRTS offer a service whereby bearings are inspected assessing their condition for defects or damage, allowing for repair and maintenance to be conducted, this activity is paramount in ensuring safety of the vehicle and associated assets.

The SRTS Derby-based training school provides the theory, practical training, and examination in NDT techniques for rail professionals to carry out tests and inspections on the rail network. To inspect a material, component, or structure in a safe, reliable, and cost-effective way without causing damage to the original part requires a comprehensive understanding of the NDT process and requirements. All courses are designed to provide both new and experienced rail professionals with the skills and knowledge, through practical, hands-on training they need to operate safely.

There are a host of services, companies, and factors all playing their part in ensuring a train reaches its destination safely on a network that is fit for purpose. SRTS are passionate about delivering value through collaboration and working with their customers to deliver services that have safety at the centre of everything they do. Everyone home safe, every day. | | 0330 109 8852.


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