Zonegreen points Isle of Wight depot in safe direction

One of the manual hand points at the Ryde depot, fitted with Zonegreen's Points Converter.

Rail safety specialist, Sheffield’s Zonegreen, is using its latest technology to protect depot staff on the Isle of Wight from the risks associated with manual hand points.

The firm has installed three Points Converters at Ryde St. John’s Road depot, which serves the Island Line, an eight and a half mile stretch of rail running from Pier Head to Shanklin on the east coast.

Operating manual hand points has long been considered a risky activity, often requiring staff to walk across poorly lit, uneven terrain, before pulling heavy switch levers that can require up to 103kgf to move.

Zonegreen’s intervention allows the points at Ryde to be controlled by locally installed key switch panels, situated on walkways, to reduce the risk of slips, trips and falls on uneven terrain and of manual handling injuries.

The system has been designed to meet the specific needs of depot operator, South Western Railways and can be expanded, if required, by adding more converters or a centralised control system to operate all of the points and enable personnel to set routes.

Christian Fletcher, Zonegreen’s technical director, said: “It is no surprise that incidents associated with hand points are common place. Add to this the dangers posed to staff who have to walk across live third rails, like those used at Ryde and the need for change is clear to see. The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) reports that 47% of major workforce injuries are due to slips, trips and falls, which is why we developed Points Converters, an affordable solution for depots.”

Zonegreen’s Points Converters connect directly to existing hand points, automating them without the expense of a full signalling conversion. As well as protecting staff, they reduce the likelihood of derailment or damage caused by drivers travelling over switches that are not fully closed and have an internal logging device that records all movements by date and time for full traceability.