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Zonegreen protecting workers at new Metro depot

August 2023

Technology developed by Sheffield rail safety experts, Zonegreen, has been selected to protect the lives of workers at a state-of-the-art maintenance facility in Newcastle.

The firm’s flagship Depot Personnel Protection System (DPPS) has been installed at the new £70 million Gosforth Metro depot, which opened earlier this year.

Working with main contractor, Volker Fitzpatrick, Zonegreen has applied DPPS to four roads in the main shed and the wheel lathe road at the 12-acre facility. The technology provides physical protection for trackside staff via powered derailers, controlled by road end panels, creating safe zones in which to work.

DPPS has been interfaced with Gosforth’s signalling system, so vehicle movements are only permitted when it is safe to do so and trains can be routed in and out of the depot seamlessly, eliminating time consuming stop starts. In addition, it is interlocked with various third-party equipment, including the high-level gantries, crane, wheel lathe and jacks, to prevent damage and protect staff from injury.

Zonegreen has also implemented a treadle warning system on Gosforth’s underfloor cleaning road, to notify workers of imminent train movements and allow them to reach a position of safety. Finally, its Depot Manager SCADA suite of software has been installed, to provide a graphical overview of the depot protection and a permanent log of activity.

Christian Fletcher, Zonegreen’s head of engineering, said: “We have a longstanding relationship with Volker Fitzpatrick, having worked together for many years on notable projects such as the Intercity Express depots, and it has been a pleasure to carry out this latest installation. Gosforth is now a worldclass facility that will not only transform how trains are maintained, but thanks to our tried and tested technology, will also be a sector leader in the creation of a safe, modern working environment.”

Gosforth’s £70 million rebuild is being undertaken to prepare for a fleet of 46 new Stadler trains, set to enter service on the Nexus Tyne and Wear Metro in autumn this year. Zonegreen’s involvement follows the installation of DPPS at the Nexus South Shields depot, where it has been protecting staff since 2020.