Zonegreen improves point safety at Portsmouth rail depot

Zonegreen's Points Converter installed at the Fratton rail depot, Portsmouth.

Sheffield-based rail safety specialist, Zonegreen, has completed a fourth installation of its innovative Points Converter system for South Western Railway.

The Fratton depot in Portsmouth, Hampshire, is the latest maintenance facility to benefit from the technology, which protects staff from the hazards associated with manual points.

Zonegreen’s Points Converter attaches to an existing manual point, to automate it and enable remote operation. This removes the requirement for staff to control the switch by hand, helping to prevent manual handling injuries and mitigating the potential for slips, trips and falls.

A single Points Converter unit has been installed at Fratton on a switch located on one of the entrance roads into the depot. The point is beyond the facility’s designated walking route, meaning if staff wished to change its direction previously, they had to navigate uneven ballast, often in the dark, to pull the heavy lever.

Thanks to Zonegreen’s technology, the point can now be controlled remotely from a key switch panel in the shunter’s cabin, removing staff exposure to the live third rail. The system has also been future-proofed, to enable further converters to be installed if the depot wishes to automate other points and set routes.

Christian Fletcher, Zonegreen’s technical director, said: “We have an excellent working relationship with South Western Railways, who recognise the safety and operational benefits of installing Points Converters at their facilities. The lever we have automated at Fratton is the perfect example of how simply and cost effectively the serious risks of injury to rail maintenance workers can be mitigated by updating old equipment.”

Zonegreen’s Points Converters are also in operation at South Western Railways’ depots in Wimbledon, Bournemouth and the Isle of Wight. For more information about the technology, telephone (0114) 230 0822, visit www.zonegreen.co.uk or follow the firm on Twitter, @zonegreen.