Zonegreen extends staff safety at Manchester depot

The road end panels, part of Zonegreen's DPPS system, installed at Manchester's Newton Heath extension.

Sheffield rail safety specialist, Zonegreen, has ventured across the Pennines to equip a brand-new maintenance facility in Manchester with the latest technology for protecting workers.

The firm is adding its New Generation Depot Personnel Protection System (DPPS*) to a £20 million extension at Newton Heath, five years after it was installed in the main shed.

All four roads in the new build facility, which will accommodate an additional 300 Northern Rail staff, will be protected by Zonegreen’s system. It automates operational procedures and guarantees the safety of workers by removing the margin for human error.

Working with main contractor, Stobart Rail, Zonegreen has implemented a replica safety system to the one in the depot’s original 10-road facility. Powered derailers have been fitted to each maintenance road, operated by control panels that workers log onto using personalised datakeys that record their whereabouts. Beacons and klaxons provide audible and visual warnings of vehicle movements and the firm’s Depot Manager software has been installed and linked to the main shed to provide an overview of all maintenance activity.

Zonegreen has also utilised its interlocking technology in the Newton Heath extension to control the operation of two cranes and an engine drop table, preventing vehicle movements if any of them are out of their safe position. Likewise, pit lighting can only be initiated if staff are logged onto the appropriate road correctly – a simple and effective way to make them follow procedure.

Christian Fletcher, Zonegreen’s technical director, said: “It has been a pleasure to work with Stobart Rail on this latest project, ensuring the safety of everyone at Newton Heath continues to be a priority. It is testament to the reliability and flexibility of DPPS that Northern Rail has chosen to incorporate it into the extension and continue working with us, reinforcing our longstanding relationship.”

Newton Heath is one of the oldest working depots in the UK and the largest operated by Northern Rail. The new extension will increase maintenance capacity at the site and be used to house and maintain CAF Northern Class 195 diesel trains that are being introduced to the local network.