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Using Close Calls to Improve Safety

To help make the rail network even safer, we will look at close calls and what makes a good call. We have more information to act on when you record a close call. We can make changes so everyone stays safe and address any problems or dangerous behaviour.

What is a close call?

A close call is anything that has the potential to cause harm or damage, including:

  • Harm to a person, including minor or major injuries and fatalities.
  • Harm to the environment and/or protected species.
  • Damage to railway infrastructure, plant, vehicles, tools, equipment, systems, and information

Source: https://safety.networkrail.co.uk/safety/close-call/

A close call should not be confused with a near miss involving trains and on-track plant (OTP).

What is the difference between a close call and an incident?

A close call is something that could happen. An incident has already taken place. For example, if a trip hazard is spotted, it can be reported as a close call because someone could trip over it. It is classed as an incident if trips because of the hazard.

What to do if you see a close call?

Safety is everyone’s responsibility. Use these three steps if you see something that could cause harm or damage:

  • Recognise: Could it cause harm or damage?
  • Respond: What can you do? Fix the situation if you can safely. Then, report it. Always speak up when you see unsafe behaviour. Then, report it. Tell the people around you so they know if there is a risk.
  • Report: Always report close calls.

Why should you record a close call?

We have more information to act on when you record a close call. As a business, we might see a trend or identify changing needs. We can make changes, so everyone stays safe, whether on the track or in the office. We need to know about any problems or dangerous behaviour.

If you don’t tell us, we can’t do anything to change things.

What is a good close call?

A good close call helps us work better across the network and learn from our experiences. A good close call helps us save time by not calling back because we don’t have enough information.

If every close call turned out to be a good call, we’d be able to:

  • Act quickly to remove the risk
  • Prioritise risk to make sure that high-priority calls are handled quickly
  • Speed up the process so you get feedback faster

By improving the quality of the information, we will turn close-call data into learning to change how we work and what we do. This information will make the rail infrastructure even safer and more efficient.

There are three critical elements to a good call.


A precise position is required for lineside close calls. This detail reduces risk by helping a colleague go to the correct location the first time, with a permit if necessary.

  • Please tell us if you have the Engineers’ Line Reference (ELR), the Mileage, Chains, Up or Down, and Type.
  • The next best option is the nearest station or delivery unit (DU).
  • It’s also possible to supply the location cabinet reference number, bridge number, or signal box number.
  • If you have the What 3 Words app, you can provide the words for the location to match a 3-metre square.
  • Although the postcode is the least useful, it is better than nothing.
  • If you’re in the office or out but non-lineside, use GPS or What 3 Words. If you don’t have either, include road names, junctions, and landmarks.


  • Describe the problem and make it clear what could go wrong.
  • Make it clear what action you took or someone else needs to take.
  • Be as precise as possible.
  • Instead of saying “loose screw”, say “loose screw on the mains supply switch in the ground floor stairway”.
  • Describe the threat that may exist.
  • For example, could it produce an electric shock?


Please explain how you fixed the close call or who needs to fix it.

What have you done to make it better?

  • Be clear and specific. Describe the actions you have already taken.
  • Who should fix it if you can’t, or it is unsafe for you to do so?
  • Your insights can help speed up the process.
  • Don’t forget; you should always report a fault first, then record a close call.
  • A fault is a failure or unforeseen event that affects railway operations or safety.
  • When there is a safety risk, you must report the fault first.
  • Faults are fixed as quickly as possible by teams in the area with a risk of harm.
  • The Fault/Route Control systems are NOT linked to the Close Call system.
  • A Close Call is NOT automatically generated when a fault is reported.
  • As a result, you should always report a fault first, then record a close call.

How can you record a close call?

If you already have the RSS app on your smartphone, use it to record a close call. Alternatively, go to rssinfrastructure.com/closecall and fill in the short online form. The information will go to the HSQE team, and we will act on it.

To keep everyone safe, we need to increase the frequency and quality of our close calls.

For more information on Close Calls, visit the Network Rail Safety Central website at: https://safety.networkrail.co.uk/safety/close-call/

About Us

RSS Infrastructure (RSSI), based in Birmingham, Cwmbran, and Doncaster, provides infrastructure services for the rail, civil, and utilities sectors. They serve clients like Network Rail, WMCA, HS2 and Tier 1 & 2 contractors. Their services include Arboriculture, Civils and Construction, Geofencing, Industrial Rope Access (IRATA), Magnetic Track Safety, Rail Operations including Possession Management and P/Way, Rail Welding, Signalling, and Track Warning Services.

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