Britain’s railways now safest in Europe, but regulator highlights priorities for improvement.
The Office of Rail and Road’s (ORR) annual safety report published today, welcomes the rail industry’s strong track record on improving safety and highlights the need for it to meet the challenges of growth and change. ORR is supporting the rail industry to take a more proactive approach to managing safety, predicting and preventing problems before they pose a safety risk.
ORR’s latest health and safety report combines the findings of its inspectors, who spend the majority of their time out on the rail network, a detailed analysis of statistical trends and industry capability. The report highlights that the trend in harm to passengers is down by a third in the past ten years and Britain’s railways are now regarded as the safest in Europe.
Following a decade of sustained focus on safety management and improvement, 2014 was the eighth consecutive year without any train accident-related passenger fatalities. It was also the second consecutive year with no passenger train derailments. The rail industry, informed and supported by ORR, has successfully collaborated to reduce the risk of passengers coming to harm when getting on or off a train. However, despite these successes, the latest safety data and evidence from ORR’s inspections show that there is still room for improvement in terms of working more proactively. The industry needs to predict and prevent problems, focus on worker health and integrate safety by design.
ORR’s Director of railway safety, Ian Prosser, said:
Great Britain’s railways have a strong track record on improving safety, and after a decade of investment and growth, are now statistically the safest in Europe. While this improvement is to be commended, statistics only tell part of the story, the industry cannot become complacent. ORR’s inspectors have identified that there is still room for improvement.
ORR’s evidence highlights the challenges facing the rail industry, in particular, the need to manage growth safely. Our safety inspectors report a mixed picture, with improvements at level crossings, on platform safety and asset management. However, inspectors are also seeing scope for improvement in safety risk assessments and worker health and safety.
The regulator is working with the rail industry to help it take a more proactive approach, recognising and managing safety issues before passengers or rail workers come to harm.