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Signal success for Phil Graham

Phil Graham of Network Rail has won this year’s Signalling Person of the Year Award.

Many signallers owe their advanced knowledge of Railway Signalling to evening classes run by Phil. Signalling Person of the Year is sponsored by Morson Group.

Friends and colleagues nominated career railwayman Phil Graham of York for having run voluntary evening classes for 25 years to teach the principles of Railway Signalling and the related Rules and Regulations. By running these evening classes Phil Graham provided many people with an exceptional opportunity to expand their knowledge of matters which are essential to the rail industry.

As well as staff from Network Rail, his classes are attended by people from train companies and local heritage railways. Phil’s classes are so popular that this year he had to repeat them up to three times every fortnight between September and March.

A rigorous examination is held at the end of each six month course.

Phil takes great pride in helping his classes achieve high pass rates, whether they are established operators or those entirely new to the subject.

Extensive knowledge

Says signal engineer Bruce MacDougall, ‘Phil is always prepared to share his extensive knowledge and experience gained as a leading railway operator. By doing this he has made a significant contribution to improving safe working, bringing about changes to the Rule Book, often as the result of inquiries he has chaired, and even occasionally as a result of issues raised in his classes where lively and challenging discussion takes place about such matters.

‘Not only does Phil give his time freely on the subject of signalling, but he also runs voluntary evening First Aid classes for those in the rail sector.’

Bruce MacDougall, former Principal Signal Engineer at Network Rail, worked with Phil and added, ‘He was the classic professional, calm under pressure and absolutely clear about what should and should not be done with that sound judgement that comes only from intimate knowledge and real practical experience.’

Phil Graham has been on the railway for 39 years, starting as a leading railman on Hough Green station. ‘It has been a real pleasure and I am very grateful to all the people who have nominated me. Do be sure to thank them.’

Says Tom O’Connor, managing director of the Rail Media Group, ‘Phil Graham is passing on skills and knowledge gathered during a long and successful career in railways. Such commitment is rarely noted by the public but

should be celebrated by us in the wider railway industry. His is an example of how to contribute to the railway community.’

Phil Graham works for Network Rail which runs the railway infrastructure including track, signalling, bridges and tunnels. A dynamic investment programme is enhancing and modernising the network including new signalling systems.

Signalling Person of the Year is sponsored by Morson Group

Says Dan Winchcombe, Rail Manager at Morson, ‘Having been involved in the rail industry for over four decades, Morson International is keen to show its continued support for signalling. The individuals involved do a hugely important job; everyone from design through to delivery

and maintenance continues to deliver in what can be an extremely demanding and pressurised environment.

In an area that has been experiencing a notable skills shortage, Morson International is eager to raise the profile of signalling and encourage those new to the industry to specialise in a skill that is much sought after across the UK.’

Morson Group operates through two main subsidiaries, Morson International, providing specialist engineering and technical personnel and Morson Projects Limited, which provides outsourced engineering and project management design services

Highly Commended

David Forrest of Network Rail

David Forrest, a signaller at London Bridge ASC, helped deal with a fire on board a train one June evening. He contacted the signal box to get trains stopped and the current isolated to make the area safe as passengers were de-training.

Although not normally involved in front line contact with the public Dave helped the passengers – many of whom were starting to panic – into the cess on the safe side of the train. He assisted the driver and the Rail Incident Officer and emergency services when they arrived. He kept a clear link using his personal mobile to the signal box to ensure that they were kept fully up to date.

Says Dave’s line manager Louise Carver, ‘His quick thinking ensured that a situation that could quickly

have escalated out of control was contained and delivered safely. Dave doesn’t deal with passengers or front line incidents within his role and on this occasion he had to deal with the challenge of passengers, incident management and an emergency situation. His ability to manage this incident was pure initiative and drawing on the existing knowledge that he has learnt in his career at Network Rail.’

Colin White of London Underground

There are always challenges in signal engineering when seeking to introduce a new, longer, train onto an existing line. London Underground’s new S stock train posed such a challenge.

The key capacity constraint for the new train service was Edgware Road, controlled from a 1920s manual lever frame signal box at the site. Colin White has over 40 years of signal design experience and was selected to lead the technical development and design of the scheme.

Says colleague George Clark, ‘Colin had to use his extensive experience and technical knowledge to challenge beliefs, assure the safety of his radical proposals and seek agreement across a wide range of stakeholders to develop his design which created a slave relay-based interlocking, integrated with the existing mechanical lever frame.

‘The new signalling circuitry would be constructed in a relocatable room, craned into the site. He then oversaw its implementation at all levels. The works were all commissioned over the 2011 Christmas period and have met the highest expectations of service performance and usability.’

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