Protection for its employees was at the top of the agenda when Rail Safety Solutions (RSS) decided to invest in a new fleet of Mercedes-Benz Vans.
The vehicles are now being used to transport safety contractors and other workers to and from job sites on the railway network across the country.
Since joining the Auctus Management Group less than three years ago, RSS has grown rapidly and now provides a range of track safety and workforce solutions to the likes of Babcock, AmeyColas, Colas Rail and Transport for London.
Birmingham-based RSS has acquired 22 vehicles, all of which arrived via Midlands Truck & Van and are the subject of a CharterWay contract hire agreement from Mercedes-Benz Financial Services. They will be maintained within the manufacturer’s franchised UK network, with most of the work undertaken at the supplying Dealer’s workshop in Saltley, Birmingham.
Most are Long-bodied Vito 113 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY Traveliner minibuses with nine seats, although the line-up also includes 10 Dualiner models with second rows of seats – of these, two are Vito 113 CDI Longs and eight are smaller Citan 109 CDI Extra-longs.
Like all Mercedes-Benz Vans, the Vito and Citan are equipped with a market-leading armoury of active and passive safety systems. These include the ADAPTIVE version of the Electronic Stability Program (ESP®) pioneered by Mercedes-Benz in partnership with Bosch, as well as Brake Assist and ABS, and flashing hazard warning lights that are switched on automatically under emergency braking.
Key to Rail Safety Solutions’ decision to put its faith in vehicles bearing the three-pointed star was a visit made as guests of Midlands Truck & Van, by Chief Executive Richard Toy and Fleet Manager Robert Barrett to the latest Mercedes-Benz VanExperience LIVE.
This unique event gives existing and prospective customers a chance to put the latest Mercedes-Benz Van models through their paces and compare them with competitors’ products. Safety is a central theme, with practical demonstrations allowing operators to see and feel at first hand, potentially life-saving Mercedes-Benz technology in action.
“It was an excellent day, and very reassuring to experience the various safety features fitted as standard to the Vito and Citan,” recalled Richard Toy. “This reinforced the view we had already formed, which was that in terms of the level of protection they offer for our employees Mercedes-Benz Vans are without equal.”
RSS relied previously on rented vehicles and prior to ordering its new fleet conducted a comprehensive analysis of safety incidents involving rail industry workers. This concluded that a number of accidents occurred not while staff worked on track, but while they were en route to the location or returning home.
These findings were borne out when three track workers employed by another operator were killed and a fourth critically injured in an horrific motorway smash last year. The accident happened as they made their way home having finished a shift in the early hours of the morning.
RSS has also fitted each of its new vans with a Driver Awareness Warning System. This employs a dash-mounted device which focuses on the driver’s retina and measures their ‘blinking pattern’ at the start of the journey, then sounds audible warnings if it detects signs of drowsiness or inattention.
Mr Toy continued: “We’re a 24-hour, seven-days-a-week operation and our work is often time-critical. It is essential, therefore, that in the event we have a problem with a vehicle, someone is out to get it back up and running very quickly. Our Service Level Agreement with Mercedes-Benz is based on a one-hour response time, but when we had a problem (caused by driver error) with one of Midlands Truck & Van’s demonstration units the technician was on site within 40 minutes, which was very encouraging.”
Robert Barrett added: “Staff feedback on the Vito and Citan has been entirely positive – both are comfortable, have excellent visibility, and offer a driving experience which is more akin to a high-end car than a commercial van.
“We approached the representatives of several manufacturers initially and the response to our enquiry from Midlands Truck & Van stood out as the most professional. Its Van Sales Executive Gez O’Reilly smoothed the acquisition process by providing all the support and guidance we could have asked for, and was always available at the drop of a hat.”
Rail Safety Solutions delivers a range of services to support and maintain the UK’s infrastructure. RSS employs 400 people and works predominantly within a 140-mile radius of its Birmingham base. The company’s core services include contingent labour, lookout-operated warning systems (LOWS), automatic track warning systems (ATWS) and magnetic safety barrier fencing.