On Location

Prudent flexibility

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RSIE worked closely with various stakeholders to bring about a rulebook change for the entire Irish network.

Rhomberg Sersa Ireland (RSIE), in cooperation with Irish Rail / Iarnród Éireann, has made a change to the rules and regulations, to provide additional flexibility and increased productivity when there is a surge in demand for track maintenance.


The rule change applies to the operation of RSIE's “On Track Machines” (OTM’s) on the Irish network. Passenger and freight trains on the Irish network require a train driver. Based on custom and practice, however, two train drivers have hitherto been required to operate the OTM’s, each of whom had to have a European Train Driver's License (ETDL). The rule change introduced a “driver assistant”, replacing the need for two ETDL train drivers. With this change, an OTM no longer needs two ETDL drivers while under the control of a signal transmitter, but instead one ETDL driver and a driver assistant.


This change was decided upon after RSIE – the operator and maintenance fitter of Iarnród Éireann (IÉ) OTM’s – identified in 2020 the risk that future shift operations may not be fully guaranteed due to a shortage of resources.


In the past year, internal factors in combination with COVID-19 caused a significant reduction in available personnel within the highly qualified “Operations Team”. Additional seasonal fluctuations in demand and the limited availability of the driving school required an alternative solution.


RSIE networked with the various stakeholders – IÉ's Rule Book Committee, Northern Ireland Railways/Translink, Commission for Railway Regulations – to initiate a review and possible change to the requirement for two ETDL holders for OTM’s under CTC control (Centralised Traffic Control).


A rule change is an exceptional event and can take a long time due to the effects a change might have on the network. Led by RSIE and supported by IÉ, the 18-month process resulted in an amendment to the rulebook in January 2021.


This rule change means that every OTM operator on the Irish network (subject to the right training) has, now and in the future, the potential for additional capacity to handle peaks in demand and thus ensure the continued safe and punctual provision of passenger and freight services.

Order the 2021 issue