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National lineside permits

Discussion in 'Photography' started by 73129, Dec 17, 2009.

  1. richards

    richards Well-Known Member

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    How does the fact that there have been no or few casualties on heritage railways suggest that their safety cases are too draconian? How many injuries are acceptable? Where do you draw the line? (I think a similar question was asked at the beginning of this thread).

    I'm not sure how you can infer that photographers who can afford their hobby would have the relevant knowledge/common sense. In fact, I think over-confidence and an "I don't need to bother with this" attitude has been a factor in various incidents.
     
  2. 7P6F

    7P6F Member

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    Insurance costs can be a reason given as to the curtailment or non issue of line side passes. And insurance costs are generally proportionate to risk and claims history. I'm curious to know if in the last 50 years whether a line side pass holder has ever claimed against a heritage railway's insurance. I am not including those working on the railway or the general public. My view is that those running our heritage railways perceive LSP holders as a nuisance excepting SVR, GCR and a few others. It is those railways that get my fullest support on share issues and appeals.
     
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  3. Johnb

    Johnb Resident of Nat Pres

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    I was answering a point about letting in Joe Public and that's not the case, they tend to just trespass anyway. What I call the serious enthusiast has probably been doing it for years and a lot, like me, either have in the past or do work on heritage lines. Until recently safety cases didn't exist so you can't say safety regs have made any difference as there have been no casualties before or since such measures. There is probably an argument for saying it increases complacency 'I've got a PTS so I'm safe'. Maybe but only if you don't forget the common sense you had before.
    Safety seems to have been reduced to a series of sound bites, the road safety drive now just tells us that speed kills, no it doesn't it's hitting people at speed that does that and I'm always amused at the motorway signs that tell me to watch my speed. I think it might be safer to watch where I'm going. I'm sure some of the shunts in speed restricted motorway road works are caused by people constantly checking that they are within the 50mph limit, the speed limiter on my car is a must have accessory I think. Slightly off topic but the point is to much intervention can dull the brain.
     
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  4. Phil-d259

    Phil-d259 Member

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    In theory this would be possible as ROGS (like lots of things) doesn't technically rule it out*. However the need to ensure that any 'all line' PTS scheme is compliant with ALL SMS on every single line it applies, and ensuring that it covers ALL potential risks makes it very difficult to design a robust scheme , acceptable to the statutory regulators - particularly given their stated position that each lines SMS must be unique to themselves in all respects.

    The other thing that has been touched on here is insurance. Plenty of people forget that unlike British Rail (who effectively had no insurance and paid out from their own coffers) Heritage Railways (and indeed Network Rail) require to obtain insurance cover from the private sector. Providers of such insurance have become much more risk adverse over the past 20 years - for example the reason visitor access to the loco yard at Sheffield Park was removed was entirely due to a member of the public tripping over a sleeper and claiming compensation and thus making it prohibitively expensive for the Bluebell to get insurance cover hat continued to allow access. Every extra £ that goes on backside covering (which is what all insurance effectively is) means one less £ to be spent on locos, carriages, track, etc.

    * Its a bit like new unprotected 3rd rail in that technically there is nothing in law that outright bans new installations - but the legislators / regulators have instead thrown so many obstacles in the way that its pretty much impossible to get past them.
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2017
  5. Johnb

    Johnb Resident of Nat Pres

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    The only possible one I have heard of was on a charter on the Bluebell when someone fell off a bridge but declared it was his own fault and as far as I know there was no claim. A problem can arise if anyone is injured and have loss of income insurance, that insurer may then look at claiming against the railway if they think the liability rests with them regardless of the wishes of their policyholder. There's an idea, restrict LSPs to us who are retired!!
     
  6. Phil-d259

    Phil-d259 Member

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    Strangely enough just as you don't have any say on whether you consider the insurance company has got the risks right when you purchase car, house or buildings insurance - neither do Heritage Railways.

    Insurance companies don't just ask whether you have claimed on your policy in the past 5 / 10 / 50 years - they ask you to tell them about the risks you pose - and sorry having people (be they regular staff, or photographers) presents on the lineside is a risk. The insurance company then price up the risk and make an offer which you accept or decline. You might well believe they have got it wrong - but tough, they are the ones in control and your only option is to walk away.

    Now while you can obviously shop around for insurance, providing insurance for a Heritage Railway is something of a niche sector of the business - and that limits the options available compared to what you or I might have when obtaining car / house insurance.
     
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  7. Phil-d259

    Phil-d259 Member

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    The fact that no claim was made makes zero difference in the world of insurances.

    Why do you think 99% of car insurance policies demand that the owner tells the insurer if they have an accident even when the damage is minor and the owner is going to repair it themselves without claiming?

    Insurance companies take the view that it doesn't matter whether they have paid out this time - if an event has happened once, it can (however unlikely) still happen again and must be factored into their risk matrix as if it does happen again then it could well result in a claim. Whether this results in an increase in insurance costs, or the insurer refusing to provide cover depends on the exact circumstances - but they key point is that decision is for the insurance company to make alone. Yes they may well take into account of extra mitigating measures - for example upgrading fencing, extra signage, etc. but at the end if the day the decision remains theirs.
     
  8. Johnb

    Johnb Resident of Nat Pres

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    The heritage railway insurance market is also too small to assess risk in any meaningful way so the insurance companies will always be cautious and take the worst possible scenario and will probably reinsure the risk as a precaution. There are probably insufficient insurers out there willing to take on this sort of business to enable much shopping around. There would be a good case for the HRA to negotiate an insurance deal for all it's members with one company that could then become something of a specialist in the field that will reduce costs over time and should get a more scientific assessment of the risks involved.
    It has been said that it would only take one death to push premiums through the roof but this is not necessarily the case and it's not how insurers assess risk. As an analogy, if you are on a twin engine plane that can fly on one engine and one engine falls off, have your chances of landing safely been halved? No because the chances of engine one falling off may be 1,000,000/1 and the chances of it happening to the second one are exactly the same.
     
  9. richards

    richards Well-Known Member

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    http://www.hra.uk.com/insurance.php
    But this policy won't necessarily be to every railway's liking, and some railways may not comply with this insurer's requirements.
     
  10. richards

    richards Well-Known Member

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    Are you suggesting that anyone claiming to be a "serious enthusiast" should be allowed access to the lineside? How to you define this term? How would the railway decide if an individual was a "serious enthusiast"?

    There have many examples of "serious enthusiasts" who have proved to be less than capable, honest, or knowledgeable in the past, including volunteers/staff.

    I don't see anything in your arguments which suggests how a heritage railway should decide which individuals should have access and which shouldn't, unless they put all the requests through the same process which proves the individual's knowledge about railway safety on that specific line. This does all appear to be a "why can't I do what I want" complaint, based on your own judgement of your own knowledge. You need to think about the heritage railway's perspective and how they can manage the situation without creating a huge amount of extra work for themselves.

    Lineside photographers make up a tiny proportion of the railway's visitors and don't show a huge return (financial, goodwill or promotional) for being given access. They should therefore only take a tiny proportion of their time and resources.

    If the lineside did become unavailable, there are still stations, public roads, bridges, footpaths, farmer's fields etc etc. Is it such a big problem??
     
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  11. Johnb

    Johnb Resident of Nat Pres

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    I thought it may have happened already but I notice it's underwritten at Lloyds which can be costly, I was thinking of a proprietary company that could be persuaded to enter this specialist field for volume business. They may then take it on as accommodation business with an eye to cross selling other products.
     
  12. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    But think of the diversity within HRA members.

    You have railways like the NYMR, a major commercial entity with 18miles of their own line through mostly open countryside plus operating services on the national network. You've got the RHDR - similar sort of length, but with myriad level crossings and running in a built up area in places. You've got Didcot, which is basically a site with largely open access to walk round. You've got Beamish, operating several independent railway attractions but no doubt with insurance arranged within the context of a much larger operation encompassing both railway- and non-railway activities. You've got the group at Midsomer Norton, operating over about 1/2 mile of line. Some of those lines will have in-house engineering capacity to do their own repairs and overhauls; some will outsource those activities. Even something as basic as catering represents an operation that the railway may or may not be involved in, and which therefore may or may not require consideration of the risks.

    All of those lines will have a very different set of risks inherent in their own operation - it's hard to see therefore how a one-size-fits-all insurance policy could be written to cover all the various operations on all those risks. (Considering that spread of lines also makes it clearer why ROGs requires each line to manage their own specific risks).

    Tom
     
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  13. Johnb

    Johnb Resident of Nat Pres

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    With business insurance there is no such thing as one size fits all. There will be the basics such as Public and employer's liability, fire and theft etc. The rest will be optional add ons. When it comes to assessing the risk presented most larger companies will have their own staff site assessors, the company I worked for called them risk reduction surveyors and as well as giving the company an insight of what they are insuring they do make recommendations for reducing risk and therefore cost. The problem heritage railways have is that the market is so small that there is no collective insurance expertise out there to assess in a meaningful way so a blanket scheme involving one company will build up a picture that allows them to become specialists in the field and reduce costs rather than what I think happens now, just taking trying to compare with their other commercial risks and add a bit for good measure.

    An example of what I mean is the company I worked for, they specialised in agriculture and the rural market, so you can probably guess who they are. Go to any insurance company and try to insure a thatched house and the underwriters will throw up their hands in horror, flammable roof big fire risk etc. and quite often doubling the normal premium. Thatch tends to exist more in rural areas and we held enough statistics to show that despite this the risk from thatch wasn't that much greater than conventional construction. The incidence of claims was actually less but thatch is flammable and being more often than not a fair way from the nearest fire brigade each one tended to be more expensive to settle. The conclusion was that owners of thatch are more wary and take greater precautions.
     
  14. 35B

    35B Resident of Nat Pres

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    That's fair, but I'd also enter a caution based on comparison with church insurance. The expertise has traditionally been concentrated in one company, and the provision of advice and general reasonableness are very much as described. However, there is also a cost with that in that there is little or no competition within that market, and there is limited room for churches to negotiate on price as a result. The recent entry of a challenger has changed that dynamic slightly, but the jury is still out on the value that it provides - the incumbent has a very good record when dealing with claims, the challenger's is yet to be proven.

    Having been on the fringes of those decisions for a church, where the key concern is lead and fire, I really do not envy those making those decisions for the railways they help manage.
     
  15. The Dainton Banker

    The Dainton Banker Well-Known Member

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    It is rather the other way round, John. It is because the propriety companies have no knowledge or understanding of the true risks involved in the Heritage Rail sector that you are getting these irrational requirements and responses. A Lloyds broker will design an appropriate policy package and then place it with underwriters who are specialists in their fields. It looks as if this is what the HRA have done and it is surprising that, if the correspondence here is anything to go on, more Railways have not signed up to it.
    In response to Tom's comment above regarding the differences in the operations of the various lines, I would have thought it axiomatic that the policy would be tailored to suit each line individually, unlike the sort of "box-filling" cover you get from the proprietory companies, who do not have the expertise to properly evaluate risk.
    Since I started this you have posted further, but, again, the problem seems to be that you (collectively) are trying to deal direct with the Insurance companies instead of through a Broker. For instance, to pick up your example of thatched buidings, there are Brokerage firms who specialise in insurance for thatched roof properties and they place the cover with underwriters who have the appropriate knowledge, which your High Street Insurance company, used to dealing in bricks and tiles, does not.

    Mike
     
  16. baldric

    baldric New Member

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    You may not spend much or any time there but the PTS has to assume you will, and you may while getting to the place you want to be, otherwise there will be a separate PTS for different parts of a line, totally against what this thread is arguing for. Also just because you have avoided issues in 50 years it does not mean that you may not have a lapse in concentration tomorrow, as has been stated, it does happen to people for various reasons.
     
  17. Johnb

    Johnb Resident of Nat Pres

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    That's partly my point, there was no competition because they had the monopoly on expertise. It was the same in farming cover, not necessarily a cost advantage but if a farmer has his combine go up in flames at harvest time he needs another one quickly, our staff engineers would know where to hire or borrow one to get him up and running before any of the well known names would have even got the assessor round to see him.
     
  18. The Dainton Banker

    The Dainton Banker Well-Known Member

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    I am having difficulty understanding your point here. As I understand it, we are discussing the potential liability that may accrue to the operating company if there is an incident of damage/injury involving an authorised lineside photographer. But the example you use above of the photographer having a lapse of concentration (or a medical event , or similar) and, I presume, stepping back into the path of a moving vehicle, should not result in a successful claim against the operating company as they have not contributed in any way negligently to the event and the photographer was there of their own volition.
    There seems to be a lot of misunderstanding about the potential for liabilities, and a fear of being sued which is not supported by actual events. This is not an appropriate place to start discussing case law but, as with the Insurance question, I would suggest that the HRA is the appropriate body to seek advice from specialist solicitors on behalf of all the operating companies, if they have not already done so.
     
  19. Fred Kerr

    Fred Kerr Part of the furniture

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    I think we agree in principle that there is no reason why an individual SMS cannot be amended to include lineside access but it is the manner in which it is applied. My suggestion is that the HRA "PTS" would indicate a competency that is acceptable to heritage lines and each line would include within its SMS that any person with a valid HRA "PTS" would be eligible for lineside access subject to (a) signing in and (b) paying for a comprehensive list of applicable restrictions for that line. I am assuming that a line's SMS could accept the HRA "PTS" as sufficient qualification of competency as does the Sentinel "PTS" for the network but because of the lower heritage line speeds the need for COSS would be unnecessary although each person lineside would need to take full responsibility for their own safety - hence the need to sign in and receive the line's documentation / rule book.
     
  20. Phil-d259

    Phil-d259 Member

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    But this is where ROGS comes in - how does the railway know that it was a lapse of concentration as opposed to the individual not being fully aware of their surroundings? Answer - the railway has a SMS which states the individual must have received and understood a suitable PTS brief before having permission to be there in the first place. If a relative then tries to sue the railway, or the ORR / HMRI come calling all the evidence is there to reject the claim (PTS answer sheet, briefing materials etc).

    Thus to ans insurer, providing the SMS address any concerns regarding lineside passes in accordance with ROGS legislation there is no issue. What is an issue is railways being asked to accept a PTS pass issued by someone other than themselves and not having the necessary evidence to refute any claims or regulatory concerns.
     
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