Rail access equipment is essential for the safe maintenance, inspection and repair of traction and rolling stock. As the UK’s leading manufacturer of rail access equipment, Planet Platforms helps to bring innovation to rail engineers responsible for this type of work.
Many industries regularly use some form of work at height access equipment when carrying out daily tasks. Whether this is inspecting, maintaining, or repairing plant or equipment doing so safely has to be the main priority. Planet Platforms long associated with the rail industry is a great illustration of a sector with this at the forefront of its philosophy.
Falls from height remain the most significant cause of fatalities in the workplace, accounting for around a quarter of the 123 workers killed in work-related accidents for the years 2021-2022.
So, when an industry has the right attitude to safe working at height, eliminating or managing the associated risks, they will most likely not contribute to these statistics.
Meeting the challenges
Traction and rolling stock are large pieces of plant and accessing them will require some form of rail access equipment. Factor in the depot environment where there isn’t a platform, where space can be of a premium and where there can be risks, such as overhead electrification, then understanding this setting is critical to specifying equipment to meet all the safety needs.
Choosing the right material
Aluminium is Planet Platforms' preferred material for the manufacture of our rail access equipment products. Lightweight and incredibly strong it enables us to produce access systems that are easy to use and manoeuvre. The different aluminium profiles that we have in stock give our CAD engineers flexibility with their designs to meet each unique setting in these train maintenance locations.
Where we are faced with the potential risk presented by overhead and third-rail electrification we can turn to our other preferred material, fibreglass, for the manufacture of rail access equipment.
Dielectrically tested to 100kv/ft our Protec tube gives excellent protection against the risk of electrocution and offers other benefits to the user. Being red in colour it stands out in any setting being visually different from most of its surroundings. Additionally, it is weather resistant and so is suitable for an outdoor location.
Each train maintenance depot presents different challenges for maintaining safe systems for working at height. This is illustrated by Planet Platforms' solutions to these differences being wholly bespoke to each of our clients and in many instances each of their sites. Our design library is reflective of this with over 8,000 individual projects that our CAD engineers have created from the initial concept. This also provides is a wealth of information for them to draw upon to quickly return a working concept to a specific need for most types of rail access equipment.
The right and safe solutions
On saloon cars, we are typically presented with three main areas for the use of rail access equipment.
Firstly, there is carriage access. Without a platform that passengers would use to access a rail vehicle, in a depot getting in and out is going to require some form of access equipment. Here our platform steps are used extensively, and we build in additional features to suit the user's needs. If footfall traffic is high, for example, we design inclined stair access at both ends of the platform. If the function of the platforms is more widely needed, such as becoming a work area then self-closing safety gates give the users 360° of protection.
Secondly, there is front-end access. The driver's cab has a windscreen and will have wipers and lights all of which need to be accessed for inspection, maintenance, or replacement. Having a platform that spans the width of the vehicle removes the need for repositioning and helps to save time.
Finally, there is the roof of the vehicle. With many of the services running through and on top of the roof area, periods of maintenance are more in-depth, requiring more time to complete. Accordingly, the access equipment needs to reflect these longer periods of work, whilst also acknowledging they will be conducted at considerable height. Fixed gantry systems offer larger work areas and being bounded by periphery handrails gives complete fall protection.
When it comes to working at height safely the rail industry is exemplary in using the correct rail access equipment to keep its workers safe. Remember. You don’t have to fall far to fall hard.