Where did the Commissioner get the information that firefighters know the train times and can ring ahead to Network Rail
Our Ref: Our Ref: NY8197 - Date: 14.03.2023
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION REQUEST REFERENCE NO: NY8197
I write in connection with your request for information that was received by the Office of the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire (OPFCC) 18 January 2023. Please accept our apologies for the delay in providing you with a response.
I note you seek access to the following information:
At the town council meeting at the end of September 2022 the commissioner stated to Liberal Democrat Councillor Pat Marsh that to tackle problems with emergency services getting delayed at Starbeck railway crossing the firefighters knew the train times and can call ahead to Network rail to let them know they are coming.
I am enquiring where the commissioner obtained this information please?
My question is:
Where did the Commissioner get the information that firefighters know the train times and can ring ahead to Network Rail?
Extent and Result of Searches to Locate Information
To locate the information relevant to your request searches were conducted within the OPFCC.
I can confirm that the information you have requested is held by the OPFCC.
I have today decided to disclose the located information to you.
To answer this specific point, I can now confirm that the Commissioner was provided information in relation to Starbeck railway crossing, train times and that they call ahead to Network Rail by a member of the senior leadership team, NYFRS (now retired). This information was then relayed in good faith by the Commissioner at the town council meeting at the end of September.
It has since transpired as a result of investigating your query further, that the information provided to the Commissioner was incorrect.
Please therefore accept our sincere apologies for any confusion the Commissioner’s comments may have elicited which was certainly not the intention. As noted above, the Commissioner relayed the information at the town council meeting in good faith.
We can now confirm:
- Harrogate and Knaresborough Fire Stations have an awareness of train times, but this can be difficult to predict and therefore deploy a dual approach where additional fire engines can be mobilised, if required, when navigating the level crossing
- Harrogate and Knaresborough Fire Stations will not call Network Rail when working at an incident on or close to a train line where working crews may be put at a safety risk. Contact is made via NYFRS control room who liaise directly with Network rail, who will then confirm a stop or caution has been placed on the line. This is then relayed to operational crew via radio message.
- On contacting Network Rail to gain further clarity on this, they confirmed in addition to passenger trains, ad hoc freight trains also use the line and there is no process for emergency services to phone ahead. When the signaller activates the crossing sequence they will view the vehicle approach. If they do see an emergency vehicle approaching reasonably close to the crossing, where they can, they will delay lowering the barriers until it has passed over. However, once the barriers are down the signaller must wait for the train to pass before they can raise the barrier. The signallers can only lift the barriers safely once a train has fully left the level crossing ‘block’ on the other side of the crossing. If there are lots of trains in the area, it follows that the barriers will be down for longer periods. Network Rail also noted that the traffic flow is at saturation point now and appreciates that the closure of the nearby road is not going to help this or the emergency services.
Again, we would like to reiterate our sincere apologies for any confusion or inconvenience the Commissioner’s comments may have elicited which was certainly not the intention. As noted above, the Commissioner relayed the information at the town council meeting in good faith.
Please note that systems used for recording information are not generic, nor are the procedures used locally in capturing the data. It should be noted therefore that the OPFCC’s response to your questions should not be used for comparison purposes with any other responses you may receive.
Your attention is drawn to the attached sheet which details your right of complaint.
If you have any queries concerning this request, please contact me quoting the reference number above.
Office of the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, North Yorkshire