Explained: The Network Rail approval process

We explain what exactly obtaining 'Network Rail approval' is, the process that it takes to gain it, and which GKD safety systems are Network Rail approved.

In case you didn’t know, our brand new Series 3 safety system for Road Rail Vehicles is Network Rail approved. But what exactly does that mean?

This blog looks at what being ‘Network Rail approved’ means and the process we had to go through to obtain the approval.

What is the process for Network Rail approval?
Network Rail is now out-sourcing the product acceptance assessment of new or modified on-track plant and portable/transportable plant to various Plant Assessment Bodies (PAB).

These independent companies are accredited by Network Rail and complete the necessary process, before final documentation is presented to Network Rail for final approval of “engineering conformance”. This is known as product acceptance.

Explain more about this product acceptance process…
The product acceptance process gives Network Rail the assurance that products accepted for use on (or about) our infrastructure are:

  • safe
  • compatible
  • reliable
  • fit for purpose
  • do not export unacceptable risks to Network Rail infrastructure.

A product must be nominated/sponsored by an approved Plant Assessment Body (PAB). They will evaluate the product against the Technology (TRL) and Reliability (RRL) elements of the Rail Industry Readiness Levels (RIRL’s). Evidence is required against all criteria, before the product then undergoes “witness testing” by the PAB.

The PAB then provides a critical review report to the Network Rail Technology Introduction Group for review. The report includes contributions from appropriate stakeholders, such as the installation contractors, maintainers, and the manufacturer. Where necessary the Independent Safety Assessor (ISA) shall review the report and make recommendations.

So when people refer to Network Rail approval, what do they mean?
They are referring to the product meeting the requirements (and being awarded) RIS-1530-PLT Issue 6.

This is the Rail Industry Standard for Technical Requirements for On-Track Plant and their Associated Equipment and Trolleys. Movement limiting devices – aka GKD Series 1, 2 and 3 safety solutions – are included within these standards.

What do movement limiting devices need to have in order to meet RIS-1530-PLT Issue 6?
There are a range of criteria that the devices need to meet, with some of the key ones being as follows:

They need a secure system that prevents it being overridden once it has been started, which might be a key switch, for example. All GKD safety control products are supplied with a supervisor key switch, and operators must input a code on the device when the system is initiated.

The device must stop the machine when lateral and vertical limits are reached. Our Series 3 products provide graduated, smooth control of hydraulic functions as they approach the set limits, then as limits are reached the operator is notified and the system stops the machine from moving through the limit.

Devices must prevent movement in an unsafe direction, even if the machine is without power. The intelligent control on GKD systems ensures machine can be recovered to the safe working zone but prevents movement further into overload.

So now we’ve looked at the basics of what Network Rail approval is, the process to get it, and the requirements for devices, check out our next blog that looks at high performance movement limiting devices.

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GKD Series 3

Discover the Series 3 safety system for RRV's and MEWPs

Explained: High performance devices

Read about what a high performance movement limiting device is and what the approval requirements are.