Signal box tours and safety education.
I am a sponsor for LNW route, working on the Banbury Area Remodelling Project and Banbury Light Maintenance Depot within Network Operations – part of Network Rail. In the delivery phase of a project, the sponsor is accountable for ensuring that it is governed effectively and delivers the original client requirements.
One of the requirements was the demolition of Banbury North signal box. When the local community objected to this, I worked with train company Chiltern Railways – whose services use the route – and community representatives to negotiate and lead Project Crossover, a 10-week project that facilitated public tours of the signal box before the demolition. I wanted to volunteer my time to make the tours successful and to give the public a chance to see behind the scenes.
What did we do?
We held open days so members of the public, local schools, enthusiasts and local businesses could see Banbury North signal box in its final operational condition. The tours were used to explain railway history, signalling, railway safety and to promote careers in the rail industry.
There were 3,508 visitors between 10 August and 2 October 2016 and the project had a hugely positive impact on the community. My role was to ensure safety, to manage the logistics and often act as the tour guide!
What did we give and get?
Tours brought the rail industry to life. Visitors were able to ring bells, pull levers, and understand the engineering skill that underpins the rail industry. Tours focused on railway safety and showed our respect for railway heritage.
We delivered level crossing safety videos and community safety presentations to hundreds of children. It was great fun showing them a working signal box.
We improved our reputation with local communities, with a reduction in complaints and objections to the project. Over 30 staff volunteered and I saw first-hand the importance of caring for communities and the value of working in partnership with the public.
What have I learnt?
Anyone working for Network Rail has a great opportunity to make a real difference through using our five days of volunteer leave each year. The team of 30 volunteers provided well over 1,000 hours of volunteering. This is a real opportunity to make a difference outside the normal day job.