RAILTRACK THIS week admitted that its own timescale for introducing automatic warning systems for track workers is 'over ambitious'.
The track operator's head of safety Colin Clifton said introduction of the systems was being hampered by its cumbersome approvals system.
The news comes only a month after the Health & Safety Executive launched a campaign to force Railtrack to phase out traditional flag and horn trackside warning systems (NCE 15 February).
Railtrack's own safety guidance plan for 2000/01 says that automatic track warning systems (ATWSs) must be used for red zone work - work on live track. Railtrack's railway group safety plan 2000/01 objective 5a commits Railtrack to maximising green zone work - work under possession - from next month.
When red zone work is unavoidable it says workers must be protected by ATWSs.
Railtrack's latest company procedure for safe trackside work is due to be published next month.
A copy seen by NCE says red zone working should only take place when the risk to workers is as low as 'reasonably practicable', with work protected by a Railtrack approved ATWS.
But Clinton, writing in Railtrack's safety newsletter Safetylines, said that the timescale was unrealistic and that objective 5a would not be met, despite Railtrack's commitment to move away from lookout protection.