NR HS – HS1 Snow Plough Safety Evaluation

Overview of Deliverables

Vertex Systems Engineering (Vertex) supported Network Rail High Speed Ltd with an assessment for the introduction of a miniature snow plough on High speed 1 infrastructure. The project required an evaluation of the operational and safety risks associated with running a plough on a railway. The objective of this project was to consider for-and-against arguments to provide a robust argument to either support the trial and use of a snow plough or demonstrate that the risk of running one is intolerable through safety concerns or operation/performance induced problems.

Picture courtesy of Brian Stephenson -

Deliverables Included

  • Investigating the proposed miniature snow plough equipment, its operations on other infrastructure (e.g. Network Rail) including any special arrangements the OEM states or current users apply, and what could be different for HS1 environment
  • Outline in the form of a simplified System Definition, the need for miniature snow plough and the HS1 system and expected conflicts such as equipment in 4ft/6ft/cess/lineside that could be damaged by ploughing
  • Consider and present the arguments for-and-against, gathering experiences from similar railways and areas with snowfall events
  • Conduct a Hazard Identification Workshop in order to identify all foreseeable risks to relevant NRHS assets from the use of miniature snow plough, as well as potential mitigations. This included preparing safety artefacts such as briefing notes and the provision of Subject Matter Experts (SMEs)
  • Provide findings in a short form paper for NRHS/HS1 in the first instance, that details the outline argument to either support the trial and use of miniature snow plough, or demonstrate that the risk of running one would be intolerable and why
  • Provide a paper to NRHS Safety Review Panel (SRP) and HS1 that summarises the independent assessment required to either allow the use of miniature snow plough or demonstrate robustly that it would be unsuitable

Technical competencies applied in the delivery of the contract

Vertex Engineers employed the following competencies during these works.

  • Safety Engineering – identification of potential hazards and potential mitigations
  • Systems Engineering – appreciating the impact of the proposed solution as a system, and determining its impact on existing systems
  • Technical knowledge of the disciplines in question incorporating many years’ experiences in Engineering management, Hazard assessments, Safety assurances and Risk assessment for multidisciplinary application including civil, geotechnical and track functions

Value added initiatives

Vertex staff encouraged NRHS Staff to widen scope in order to consider other methods of clearing snow that had not previously been considered. This enabled a more holistic view of the potential solutions and for pros/cons of other systems which were included in the final report.

All resource that was deployed to the HS1 project were subject matter experts and conversant with HS1 infrastructure, this prevented any delays during mobilisation.