South East News

Level Crossing Protection Award

On 10th February the Heritage Railway Association awarded Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway the runners up award in the large groups category for outstanding achievement for their Level Crossing Protection System.

The railway has worked tirelessly for years to raise industry standards and protect it's staff (both paid and volunteer), the general public and it's passengers. Though private funding, the railway receives no government grants, generated by it's passengers the railway now has barrier systems in place to cover all 13 level crossings and were very proud to receive this national award.

Romney Sands Integrated Control System

2018 marks the 91st anniversary of the Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway. In 2017 The S&T (signalling and telecommunications) department celebrated another landmark event - the completion of Romney Sands Integrated Control System. This is the final road crossing to be upgraded as part of a project spanning over a decade. Romney Sands crossing was last on the list to receive barriers as it was at the bottom of the risk register and additionally it is the  most complex crossing along the 13 ½ mile line.

In 2003 the RH&DR began looking at ways of improving safety at all of the lines 13 level crossings. The project began by looking at how the improvements could be made, ultimately this resulted in all the crossings receiving barriers. The first five crossings received control systems based on the Network Rail relay based crossing systems. In 2011 the Railway made the decision to design its own control system for to reduce costs and improve the build times and reduce the maintenance burden. The first part of the design stage was to involve official bodies and independent testers to provide their professional opinion. The first RH&DR designed crossing was then installed in 2014 at Eastbridge Road and after some refinement the Railway was later able to install six crossings in one year.

Prior to starting the single line crossings the Railway sought the advice of the Office of the Rail Regulator (now the Office of Road and Rail) and an inspector visited the railway to give guidance. This visit highlighted a number of issues with the physical layout at Romney Sands which would need to be addressed during the upgrade work.

The Romney Sands Crossing project began in 2016 with detailed design specification being discussed in April. Romney Sands Crossing site posed specific issues as it includes a passing loop, narrow footpaths and other physical constraints. It quickly became clear the crossing and the existing automated Approach Control Signalling System would need to work together and so the decision was made to build a new signalling system so that the crossing and signalling systems could be tested side by side in the workshop before going to site. This led to the title “Integrated Control System”. Next work moved on to build a simulator to work out any glitches in the system, and to allow it to be demonstrated to the users. The work on the crossing had to take into account the need to have the crossing operational for trains each weekend when the railway was open to the public. This was achieved with a system of changeover days whereby the previous system was kept running until the new system could be fully commissioned.

The Crossing has improved the infrastructure of the station by widening the road and making the Crossing and platform easily accessible by wheelchair. The main benefit of this now upgrade is the increase in safety of the travelling public, Railway staff and the public who use the Crossing to gain access to the Holiday Park. Operationally the Railway now benefits from a self-monitoring crossing that sends text message alerts to the S&T team if any faults are detected. The S&T team can also plug the new equipment directly into a laptop to help diagnose any problems. This new and very cost effective crossing design has led to interest from other Railways which could generate income for the RH&DR and improve the safety of other Railways.

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