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2009 Q6 LEGISLATION, STANDARDS & PRACTICE
#1
I am attaching last years module 1 question paper here until the end of February.

The idea is that those who failed the exam last year can have another go at it and then get some feedback; the "next best thing" to getting their real answer papers back.  See "learning from failure"

Also those that are seriously thinking of attempting the paper for the first time next year should also have a go- I am not expecting great things initially, but the important thing is to ACTUALLY START and get an idea about what writing the paper is all about at first hand.

It should only take an hour and a half to download, printout, get set-up, handwrite answers on the blank sheets (I have attached my representation of the official IRSE Exam A4 answer sheet- but there are also two varieties of A3 answer sheet which might prove useful for certain questions - see attachments in graph paper thread ), scan and submit.  
Ideally use the  "Answers Anonymous" facility
- no one else will be able to see your attempt at that time; otherwise email me and attach.

Allocate yourself a 4 digit candidate number of form DDHH where DD is the day of the month and HH the clock face hour when you start your answer.

At the end of the month I'll post all answers received into the "Module 1 Virtual Study Group" part of the website so will not be visible to all and sundry.  Indeed submission of your attempt will be your initial "entry ticket" into this restricted area, so hopefully this will carrot active as an incentive and get you started.  This is my way of finding out who is prepared to get "stuck-in" seriously and who isn't yet ready to make that committment.


Attached Files
.pdf   2009-mod1-final.pdf (Size: 24.86 KB / Downloads: 175)
.doc   IRSE answer paper blank.doc (Size: 34.5 KB / Downloads: 122)
PJW
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#2
(05-02-2010, 03:40 PM)PJW Wrote: I am attaching last years module 1 question paper here until the end of February.

Downloaded, read, and decided what I would have attempted had I been there, nothing more yet.



First:
Q6 : Discuss how legislation, standards and good practice contribute to the safety of the railway system. [25 marks]

Immediately I think ''how long is a piece of string ?'' .

I would not attempt that. IMHO way way too wide to deal with in 30 mins under exam pressure. I have no idea what the examiner might be after, and there are far too many avenues of digression to go up and waste a lot of time on one aspect, and lose marks.



I decided that right away - as soon as I read the question - nay nay and thrice nay for me.

Is this a good sign - eliminate right away what not to start on ??

Or am I being too hasty there - have past exams shown that is a good one to attempt by the very fact that it *is* wide and a chance to lay down generic knowledge without detailed background in any discipline ?



After about 6 min reading questions (I timed that) , I'd go for Q1 and Q3. My answers would undoubtedly draw on detail from LU i.e. a ''metro'' / underground environment - but keep in mind, and comment on, generic application.


Not sure when I might get around to an answer attempt ... .. . busy busy weeks right now. ...


--
Nick
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#3
(06-02-2010, 08:44 PM)nicklawford Wrote: Q6 : Discuss how legislation, standards and good practice contribute to the safety of the railway system. [25 marks]

Immediately I think ''how long is a piece of string ?'' .

I would not attempt that. IMHO way way too wide to deal with in 30 mins under exam pressure. I have no idea what the examiner might be after, and there are far too many avenues of digression to go up and waste a lot of time on one aspect, and lose marks.
I decided that right away - as soon as I read the question - nay nay and thrice nay for me.
Is this a good sign - eliminate right away what not to start on ??
Or am I being too hasty there - have past exams shown that is a good one to attempt by the very fact that it *is* wide and a chance to lay down generic knowledge without detailed background in any discipline ?
Nick

Some like the short questions: they take less time to read- particularly if English not your first language this can be important as less daunting). The more detailed a question, inevitably the more country / railway specific it tends to be. Also it gives you the widest scope to interpret as you wish; one person's freedom is the other person's agoraphobia.

You are right that a candidate might think that it gives them "carte blanche" t write anything pertinent to legislation and railways and if their answer is just detail of one thing that they know about they may think they have done well but actually they would score very badly. Perhaps it is easier with more detailed questions that tend to "guide the answer" to be sure that you are not "straying from the path"; however provided you treat these questions sensibly id does give you the freedom "to go where you will"; the examiner can scarcely say you are "off limits" when the question is so open- if it is a reasonable interpretation then the examiner will award the marks even if you have gone in some unexpected direction.

However you must be sure, as ever, to really answer the question asked- make sure you give some detail where appropriate but above all concentrate on breadth of answer.

If a candidate quoted long list of items of legislation by title / year then few marks would be given. Conversely if lots of gory detail is given on quoting clauses from say "The Railway Safety Regulations 1999" then again this will gain few marks.

An answer however that is considering UK Mainline might be expected to make mention of this legislation and give examples of the primary changes which it introduced which I regard as a) effectively mandating the Train Protection and Warning System as the minimum mitigation to control the risk of overrun following a Signal passed At Danger, requiring (with a few exceptions) central door locking for passenger trains and the phasing out of old fashioned rolling stock consisting fundamentally of a lightweight body on a heavy chassis to get the much greater crash resistance afforded by tubular constructions where the strength is in the body shell.

An answer which looked in this level of detail at the wide range of legislation which applies to railways would I am sure do well and it would be easy enough in such an answer for a candidate to gloss over a particular area of ignorance- if you give the detail for many but then just the title of another then you
PJW
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#4
(07-02-2010, 03:43 PM)PJW Wrote: [quote='nicklawford' pid='1183' dateline='1265485460']
Q6 : Discuss how legislation, standards and good practice contribute to the safety of the railway system. [25 marks]

Immediately I think ''how long is a piece of string ?'' .

I would not attempt that. IMHO way way too wide to deal with in 30 mins under exam pressure. I have no idea what the examiner might be after, and there are far too many avenues of digression to go up and waste a lot of time on one aspect, and lose marks.
I decided that right away - as soon as I read the question - nay nay and thrice nay for me.
Is this a good sign - eliminate right away what not to start on ??
Or am I being too hasty there - have past exams shown that is a good one to attempt by the very fact that it *is* wide and a chance to lay down generic knowledge without detailed background in any discipline ?
Nick

Some like the short questions: they take less time to read- particularly if English not your first language this can be important as less daunting). The more detailed a question, inevitably the more country / railway specific it tends to be. Also it gives you the widest scope to interpret as you wish; one person's freedom is the other person's agoraphobia.

You are right that a candidate might think that it gives them "carte blanche" t write anything pertinent to legislation and railways and if their answer is just detail of one thing that they know about they may think they have done well but actually they would score very badly. Perhaps it is easier with more detailed questions that tend to "guide the answer" to be sure that you are not "straying from the path"; however provided you treat these questions sensibly id does give you the freedom "to go where you will"; the examiner can scarcely say you are "off limits" when the question is so open- if it is a reasonable interpretation then the examiner will award the marks even if you have gone in some unexpected direction.

However you must be sure, as ever, to really answer the question asked- make sure you give some detail where appropriate but above all concentrate on breadth of answer.

If a candidate quoted long list of items of legislation by title / year then few marks would be given. Conversely if lots of gory detail is given on quoting clauses from say "The Railway Safety Regulations 1999" then again this will gain few marks.

An answer however that is considering UK Mainline might be expected to make mention of this legislation and give examples of the primary changes which it introduced which I regard as a) effectively mandating the Train Protection and Warning System as the minimum mitigation to control the risk of overrun following a Signal passed At Danger, requiring (with a few exceptions) central door locking for passenger trains and the phasing out of old fashioned rolling stock consisting fundamentally of a lightweight body on a heavy chassis to get the much greater crash resistance afforded by tubular constructions where the strength is in the body shell.

An answer which looked in this level of detail at the wide range of legislation which applies to railways would I am sure do well and it would be easy enough in such an answer for a candidate to gloss over a particular area of ignorance- if you give the detail for many but then just the title of another then you
PJW
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#5
(07-02-2010, 03:52 PM)PJW Wrote: Some like the short questions ...........................

WOW thanks for the detailed reply.

I've spent a few minutes going over the question choice again - instead of at home I did it on a train - sometimes I have found a completely different environment to read the same piece gives a different slant on things.

After doing that again, I might have changed my selection for this particular paper to be two from Q1 Q3 Q5 but I'm tempted to stick with my original choice.

Not sure when I might get around to attempting answers.

--
Nick
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#6
Note that this is one of the questions considered in the official IRSE "Sample Answers"
PJW
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#7
This is one of a set of three questions undertaken in mock exam conditions.

========================================================================

An interesting approach to answering a brief but broad question.

Within the first "definitions" section, I think that "Standards" should have been interpreted more widely; probably too much emphasis on "Railway Group Standards" which are only applicable to specifying the interface between Network Rail as the Infrastructure Manager and the various Train Operating Companies as the Railway Undertakings- they have no relevance (other than of course potentially being a "reference design" or incorporating "good practice") to any other railway.  London Underground has its own suite of standards which are very different in content and character, the various minor railways in the UK have no requirement to conform, railways elsewhere all have their own standards.  There is a wide range of non industry specific standards which a railway should follow (e.g. BS7671); typically being able to demonstrate compliance to a suitable set of standards is a good means by which one can stay legal (and can form a reasonable defence if in the end something nasty happens and one is then accused of not complying with the law!).

I felt that the answer spent too much time explaining the distinctions rather than truly focusing on how the sum total contribute to safety.  I don't however think this is easy and this wouldn't have been a question I'd have attempted.  However I certainly would have explained the significance of the Common Safety Method and the circumstances in which rigidly following tried and tested standards is appropriate and those circumstances where this not sensible or practical.

I think that I might have tackled by looking at what threats to safety exist.
1. It goes without saying that everyone wants a safe railway.
However there is a balance of other worthy considerations, many of which do tend to erode that safety intention:
a) limited finance available- if each project costs more, fewer can be achieved,
b) efficient , cost-effective railway; limited experienced staff to deliver the works,
c) minimum disruption to the public leading to  limited possession times / site access,
d) desire for faster more frequent trains,

2. Mis-communication in it's widest sense, including:
a) Misunderstandings,
b) unchecked assumptions,
c) lack of clear split of responsibility,
d) hidden dependencies and interactions,

3. Unforeseen consequences
An intended change having undesirable effects that were just not anticipated.
Just reeling from an example of this myself; by pure good fortune rather than anything else stumbled upon something which could well have ended with the commissioning of an interlocking in a highly unsatisfactory state.  At first sight the alteration was broadly the conversion of a shunt to a main running signal and in particular the change to it being first wheel replaced rather than last wheel replaced; a disastrous consequence of the actual design was that points in line of route from a signal on a parallel line were no longer held locked after the clearance of that signal and neither the affected signal route nor point had been identified as needing testing since there was no obvious change to either.  Indeed if it hadn't been that a second example of an equivalent change had been implemented elsewhere on the same layout and the unintended consequence having revealed itself via an indication anomaly I think it highly probable that the fault would not have become apparent until re-commissioned into operational use and possibly only after being the cause of an accident.
Considering this "near miss" within the scope of the question and considering the contribution to safety that might have been provided to have prevented:
a) legislation- no possible contribution.
b) standards- hard to assess.
No clear contravention of any particular standard that was obviously applicable, except perhaps with the benefit of 100% hindsight.  Clear mismatch between the vintage of the installation being modified and the contractually quoted standards of the project- hence dubiety of what standards should have been followed. In fact no actual standard really defined either the design or the testing- some certainly do exist that are partially relevant but there are several- none of which actually cover precisely and which themselves do not form a complete and coherent set.  For example testing standards have only ever really been specified for testing "as new" a complete installation; nothing really defined for testing alterations
c) good practice- so much has evolved over the years that the "custom and practice" that existed at the time consistent with such installations has been swept away and wouldn't be regarded as acceptable in the current day environment even if it were possible to assemble a team of the competence and experience to work in the old manner.  Much wasn't documented in detail anyway.
Typical circuits for the alterations were followed; it was just that there was "a trap for the unwary" hidden elsewhere in the circuitry and no-one had tumbled to the potential implication of a seemingly innocuous change.  We are all much older and wiser now!

With this in mind I think it well worth including in the IRSE question answer discussion reference to the fact that all the legislation, standards and good practice in the world does not guarantee a safe railway!

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Back to your answer.

I thought comment re NR specifying life-cycle, CEM/CRE Responsibilities etc. particularly valuable.

Less convinced that the discussion re obtaining deviation for using a different form of route indicator for a signal was as usefully presented; I think what you were trying to say was that sometimes need to adopt a solution that is actually contrary to the laid down standards to get the safest possible railway in a particular scenario and that if this is justified and peer reviewed then this is a legitimate thing to do- somehow your wording didn't drive that point home.

You did rather better when discussing the advantages and disadvantages o "typical circuits".

Similarly including the system approach and inter-disciplinary considerations added to your answer.


Overall I found the answer quite impressive.  Perhaps a bit too much of an essay and it might have benefitted from a bit more of an obvious structure so that the examiners would be more likely to get an overview of its scope; I had to read it through several times to assimilate all that was in it.  I think it ended very well with the bullet list in the last paragraph and more of that might have made it easier on the examiner (and I think more likely that as a candidate you'd get all credit due).

I think that the content might have warranted a Distinction; not sure if it would actually have been judged quite  as highly, depending on how diligent the examiners would be at assimilating all that content when viewed as one more attempt at this particular question.

Note though that this question is one of those that features in the IRSE's commentary on sample answers.

http://www.irseexam.co.uk/forum-145.html


Attached Files
.pdf   2009 mod 1 Q6 role of legislation and standards DAP.pdf (Size: 415.52 KB / Downloads: 21)
PJW
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