Ding-ding, and away
Ding-ding, and away is a slang expression used by the UK Media and railway enthusiasts to describe an incident in the British railway industry where the driver of a train standing at a platform is wrongly given a bell code or green flag telling him to start the train although the platform starting signal is danger, and he moves the train past the signal without checking it. This constitutes a signal passed at danger (SPAD).
On multiple unit trains, the guard uses a Bell/Buzzer Code to communicate with the driver. Once the doors have closed and platform duties are complete, the guard informs the driver by sending the signal for "ready to start", which is two rings (hence "ding-ding"). There was a debate whether guards should only give the "ready to start" or station staff the "right away" signal if the platform starting signal was clear. The British Railways Board refused to change the rules, saying that the driver alone should have the responsibility to comply with signals. Initially the Railway Inspectorate agreed, for example in the report on the early example at Woolwich Arsenal in 1948. However, accidents in the 1970s culminating in seven people being killed at Paisley Gilmour Street in 1979 caused the rules to be changed in 1980, with the effect that giving the signal to "close doors", "ready to start" or "right away" whilst the starting signal is at danger now constitutes an operating incident.
Unfortunately "Ding-ding, and away" events continue to occur despite the rule change and the introduction of equipment such as the driver's reminder appliance. On trains which work under driver-only operation (DOO) drivers oversee the whole despatch process themselves and so may be distracted by activity on the platform which causes them to close the doors and move away without checking the signal, as in the Newton rail crash. With driver-only operation now more common, the term "Starting against signal, [where the] signal [is] passed at danger" (SASSPAD) is now used.
Many stations such as Peterborough where Driver Only Operation trains are dispatched by platform staff no longer use the traditional white bat/green flag manual method of informing the driver, but instead have indicators fitted to their platform starting signals. Usually fibre-optic, they display CD (Close Doors) followed by RA (Right Away) and are operated by the station platform staff. However these indicators do not remove the need for drivers to ensure the main aspect of the starting signal has cleared, as they are not necessarily interlocked with the main aspects, e.g. where a train needs to vacate a platform but the main signal can only show a subsidiary aspect (two diagonal white lights) because the section is occupied by another train unit or locomotive.
- "Online Rulebook - Definitions of Terminology". RSSB. Retrieved 2011-08-29.
- "Online Rulebook - Section TW1 Para 3.6 Bell/Buzzer codes" (pdf). RSSB. Retrieved 2011-08-29.
- Archive Document at The Railways Archive.
- "Online Rulebook - Section SS2 Para 6.5 The Ready to Start Signal" (pdf). RSSB. Retrieved 2011-08-23.
- Accident at Stratford Market, 5 April 1905
- Accident at Reading, 17 June 1914
- Accident at Haverhill, 29 November 1919
- Accident at Llandudno, 12 October 1925
- Accident at Bellgrove Junction, 6 March 1989
- Accident at Hyde North Junction, 22 August 1990
- Accident at Newton Junction, 21 July 1991
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