Rail Guidance Document RGD-2009-06 Guidance to Inspectors regarding the use of mobile phones / hand held electronic communication devices by train drivers


1. The widespread use of mobile phones means that we must assume that most railway staff, including operational staff such as train drivers, will have one with them whilst they are on duty. In addition, we know that some train operators are interested in issuing, or have issued, company mobile phones to drivers for business use.


2. There may be business and operational benefits to be gained from staff such as drivers having mobile phones. However, the train collision in September 2008 in California in which 25 people died, where the use of a mobile phone by a train driver has been implicated as a possible underlying cause, has highlighted the potential impact on safety of the availability and use of mobile phones in driving cabs.


3. In response to the California accident, the US Federal Railroad Administration has made an emergency order restricting the use of mobile phones and other electronic equipment by train drivers. In addition, using hand-held mobile phones whilst driving a car is an offence in the UK, again because of the risk of distraction.


4. Finally we should note the considerable effort made in recent years by the UK industry to consider human factors issues in the design and layout of driving cab interiors and driver – machine interfaces to avoid distractions and to enable the driver to concentrate on observing signals. Our position on the use of mobile phones by train drivers


5. We consider that: • there is a significant risk of drivers being distracted from the task of observing signals by receiving or making mobile phone calls, including texting. This distraction may occur whether or not the train is in motion and whether or not calls are accepted. • when a driver is in charge of a train their communications should be limited to those needed for the safe and effective operation of that train. • however, in an emergency situation, such as a derailment or a suicide on the railway, a mobile phone would be a useful item for drivers to have available.


6. As a hierarchy of control, we expect:

• where drivers need to communicate with, say, a signaller this should be done in the first instance through fixed equipment (such as SPTs, GSM-R, CSR or NRN) or specially adapted equipment (such as provided on part of the Chiltern line). The rule book details circumstances when other methods may be acceptable.

• if a driver carries a mobile phone with them when on duty (whether it is their personal equipment or issued by their employer), it should be switched off and placed out of sight inside their bag before they enter the driving cab. This reduces the temptation to look at or use the phone.

• if a duty holder wishes drivers to use mobile phones when they are in charge of a train that: o any such use will have been subject to a suitable and sufficient risk assessment; or adequate risk control measures will have been implemented; and o the application of these measures is subject to appropriate instruction, briefing and supervision by train crew managers.

• the same standards should apply to anyone who is travelling / supervising in a driving cab.

• duty holders should be clear as to the sanctions that they may impose should staff be found to be in breach of their policies. Action (optional) Inspectors should note our position on mobile phone use in train cabs. Inspectors should seek appropriate specialist support when required. Enforcement should be in line with our enforcement policy statement and application of the enforcement management model.