Transport chiefs praise digital system helping to protect rail workers from COVID-19

Lanes Rail Team Leader James Gooch with his Team Leaf enabled phone. Helping him and his colleagues carry out maintenance across the London Underground network.

Transport for London auditors have praised Lanes Group’s Rail Division for a new digital workflow system that is helping keep teams safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

They have described the system as representing “good practice” while giving Lanes Rail a risk-to-service score of zero, the lowest possible risk profile, following an intensive five-day audit.

Lanes Rail has developed the digital system, based on the Teamleaf platform to create a bespoke mobile workforce tool to manage all transport maintenance services delivered for Transport for London (TfL).

These include track drainage surveying, cleaning and repair, station and depot maintenance, structure repair, graffiti removal, vegetation management and UAV surveying.

Matthew Todd, Lanes Rail Commercial Director, said: “We’ve introduced and developed Teamleaf over the last 12 months, throughout the period of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This has allowed us to build in specific functionality to support and protect staff. It includes a process for asking all work team members, at the start of each shift, if they have any COVID-19 systems. If they do, the site supervisor follows a procedure to stand down the colleague and safeguard other team members.

“The system has also helped us share key information and advice about COVID-19 risks and procedures and tailor the messaging precisely in accordance with latest regulations and social distancing requirements.”

The mobile phone app-based Teamleaf system was praised after Lanes became the one of the first TfL contractors to undergo a new five-day audit, designed to set a new high-level test of operational health and safety.

Lanes Rail has invested an estimated £100,000 in the digital system, so far, in terms of set up costs and internal development time.

It is used to log the start of all projects, record progress, including gathering of photographic evidence, and then log the closure of the project when completed.

Lanes Rail Compliance Manager Mark Taylor, who is leading development of the system, said: “We can now give TfL contract managers access to an interactive dashboard displaying our service data that updates in real time. It shows key statistics, including latest fault details, first time fix data and fault hotspots displayed on a map, which helps us work together to deploy resources where they’re needed most.

“Feedback from TfL colleagues has been very positive. They see it as a big advance in terms of usability and the quality and range of data we can provide them, which will help us drive up maintenance standards on behalf of TfL customers.”

Work teams can access risk assessments and method statements and carry out point of work risk assessments using the tool.

Teamleaf is used to carry out vehicle checks and manage training requirements and qualifications of all team members, ensuring a job can only go ahead when the team selected has the right skill mix.

The system allows TfL to view live work data at any time, either from a desktop computer or a mobile phone when visiting a worksite.

It does not rely on internet connectivity, which is essential for teams working on London Underground. Instead, all data is updated whenever a mobile phone with the Teamleaf app has an internet connection.

Matthew Todd said: “We’ve only been developing the system for 12 months and are coming up with new ideas all the time. For example, we aim to use QR codes to allow workforce qualifications to be checked instantly by client auditors in the field.

“It’s liked by work teams because they have all the information they need at the touch of a button and its analytical power gives us huge potential to enhance productivity and workforce safety.”

Lanes Rail works on London Underground, London Overground, and London Trams. It has also delivered services for High Speed 1 and the Crossrail Elizabeth Line.

Its teams installed over 65,000 COVID-19 social distancing stickers at every station on the Underground network, other public locations and all rail depots and offices. They also installed more than 2,000 hand sanitisation units across TfL transport premises.

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