Rail Safety Solutions (RSS) has invested in new Mercedes-Benz vans fitted with a range of active and passive safety systems.
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.
The company 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.
The decision to buy Mercedes was made following a visit to the company's Van Experience Live event.
“It was an excellent day, and very reassuring to experience the various safety features fitted as standard to the Vito and Citan,” said chief executive 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.
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.
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.”
Fleet manager 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."