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Zonegreen develops derailer powered by sun

February 2021

Sheffield-based rail safety specialists, Zonegreen, have launched an innovative solar powered derailer, to bring clients environmental and economic benefits.

The firm has developed a means of integrating renewable energy into a powered derailer, improving the safety of depot staff, whilst eliminating costly electrical installations to remote locations.

Zonegreen’s new solar powered derailer makes it possible for depots to upgrade outdated manual derailers, without installing expensive infrastructure. It affords staff the same level of protection against operational risks as the powered version, including muscular-skeletal and trapping injuries, whilst offering greater flexibility and cleaner energy production.

Derailers are designed to physically protect staff from unauthorised vehicle movements and were traditionally operated by lifting the headworks onto and off the rail by hand. The risks associated with them led to the evolution of powered derailers, which are now commonplace throughout the UK.

Zonegreens state of the art derailer

Manual derailer headworks weigh around 25kg and repeated operation poses significant risk of repetitive strain injuries. They are also often wet or oily, increasing the risk of trapped hands and fingers and are situated at low level, requiring operatives to crouch down in front of a live vehicle, where they are out of sight of the driver.

Despite widespread use of the powered variant, manual derailers are still seen in depots across the country. The cost of running power and containment to remote locations where manual derailers can be fitted is often prohibitive when considering installation of a powered alternative.

Christian Fletcher, Zonegreen’s technical director, said: “The Rail Safety and Standards Board reported an increase in major injuries when using equipment in its 2019/20 figures. This shows more needs to be done to protect rail staff and we believe manual derailers are a big part of the problem. By solving the issue of running power to them, we hope our solar derailers will really resonate with depot operators, offering advantages in terms of safety and operability.”