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Institution of Railway Signal Engineers
(Hong Kong Section)

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 IRSE(HK) Newsletter > News
 Issue 06 @ March 2010 

Deadman Device

Y F Sung
FIRSE
Secretary, IRSE(HK)

In the recent years, a vigilance device is provided in the driving cab of a high speed train which is manned by one driver. The main functions of the device are:

(1) To ensure that the driver always stays in the cab during the train is running;
(2) To ensure that the driver always keeps alert;
(3) To ensure that the train stops when the driver suddenly collapses.

The device is called Deadman Switch or Driver Safety Device (DSD). In France it is called "VACMA", short for "Veille Automatique de Contôle à Maintien d'Appui".


There are three types:

A.    A spring loaded switch or plunger installed infront of the driver at the control panel. The switch or plunger requires operation at regular intervals, say 2 minutes. (Subject to the Railway Operator’s requirement) If the driver fails to activate the switch or plunger at the defined time, an audible alarm sounds to warn the drvier. If the driver has no further action within 3 seconds, there will be a brake application.

B.    A foot pedal is provided infront of the driver underneath the control panel. The pedal requires operation by driver’s foot at regular intervals, say 2 minutes. If the driver fails to activate the pedal at the defined time, an audible alarm sounds to warn the drvier. If the driver does not react within 3 seconds, there will be a brake application. And if the driver keeps on depressing the pedal and does not release his foot within 3 seconds, an audible alarm sounds to warn the driver. If he fails to action, there will be a brake application. This is to ensure the driver is physically fit.

C.    French Railway applies a ring fitted below the speed controller (like steering wheel) at the control panel. Here is one of the designs. The driver has to grip the ring and release it at regular intervals. The action is that the driver grips the ring,  holds and releases it regularly. If the driver holds the ring more than 20 seconds, an audible alarm sounds to warn the drvier. If the driver does not release the ring, there is a brake application. And if the driver releases the ring for more than 20 seconds, an audible alarm sounds to warn the driver. If the driver does not react, there is a brake application. This is to ensure the driver is physically fit.



Figure 1 A 'Ring' Deadman Device used in French Railway


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