The era of yellow ends on trains could be coming to an end. A new Railway Group Standard comes into being today which says that the front end of trains no longer needs to be yellow on new or modified trains complying with the relevant headlamp requirements.
In the 1950s, diesel and electric-powered trains were gradually introduced on to Britain’s railways to replace steam locomotives. Being far quieter, people working on or near the line found them more difficult to anticipate on approach, and so new requirements were introduced to have yellow warning panels on the front ends of all diesel and electric trains. This requirement has existed to the present day; however, since that time, headlamp technology has improved.
The requirement for all new trains introduced on to the GB mainline to have the right arrangement and illumination of headlamps is in law. This meant that the Railway Group Standards on visibility and audibility needed to be changed to reflect what the law actually requires, and so the new Railway Group Standard no longer contains a requirement for yellow front ends on trains that comply with legal requirements for headlamps.
The Railway Group Standard explains what’s actually changing?
• New or upgraded trains introduced to the network must comply with legal requirements to have the correct arrangement and illumination of headlamps and can also display a yellow front end.
• Existing trains which do not comply with the headlamps requirement must still have a yellow front end warning panel.
• Yellow plant still has to be yellow all over, and shunting locomotives and snowploughs still require forward-facing surfaces painted yellow with black diagonal stripes where it’s reasonable to do so.
• Where a non-yellow front end train is being considered on a route where trains with yellow front ends are currently used, the operator will need to consult all affected parties and carry out appropriate risk assessments.
This will include considering:
○ All operating conditions likely to be experienced by the train
○ The impact on the safety of railway workers, passengers and members of the public
○ The impact on safety at level crossings
○ The effect of front end colour on the perceived position of a stationary train when a driver is undertaking a permissive move into a platform already occupied by another unit
○ Reliability and maintenance of the head lamps
○ All relevant duties under health and safety legislation The new standard provides guidance on front end colours, particularly if a company decides to exclude the yellow warning panel. There is also advice on taking care to consider the impact of choice of certain colours and designs, for example, avoiding colours associated with signal aspects or with high visibility clothing to avoid confusion.
Steven Knight is a Transport Specialist who has over 40 years experience in the bus and rail industries as well as in specialist transport journalism. He is a member of the Chartered Institute of Journalists.