Select Committee on Transport, Local Government and the Regions Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum by the Health and Safety Executive (LU 07)



  1.  The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has been invited to give evidence to the Sub-Committee on 5 December 2001.

  2.  HSE, of which HM Railways Inspectorate (HMRI) is part, is the independent safety regulator for railways, including London Underground. The recent Ladbroke Grove Rail Inquiry Part two report by Lord Cullen[12] endorsed the application of the safety case regime to Great Britain's railways and confirmed that the HSE should remain the safety regulator.

  3.  This evidence is intended to inform the Sub-Committee on the railways safety case (RSC) process, the statutory basis under which London Underground Limited (LUL) is permitted to operate trains, stations and infrastructure. The evidence considers only safety issues in relation to the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) proposals, and does not consider wider issues of the PPP structure that are outside the scope of HSE's responsibilities.


  4.  The Railways (Safety Case) Regulations 2000[13] require those providing railway infrastructure or operating train services to prepare and submit to HSE a safety case setting out:—

    —  safety policy and objectives;

    —  a risk assessment;

    —  risk control measures;

    —  safety management systems.

  5.  The Regulations update 1994 Regulations and place responsibility for accepting all RSCs with HSE. Although for LUL these changes were not as significant as for the mainline railway, the Regulations do make significant changes to the way in which RSCs are accepted.

  6.  Under the 2000 Regulations, an RSC serves two main purposes:—

    (a)  to give confidence that the operator has the ability, commitment and resources properly to assess and effectively to control risks to the health and safety of staff, contractors, passengers and the public; and

    (b)  to provide a comprehensive core document, with links to other more specific documents, rules and procedures, against which management and HSE can check that the accepted risk control measures and the health and safety management systems have been properly put into place and continue to operate in the way originally intended.

  7.  An accepted RSC represents a positive assessment against published criteria. In HSE's judgement the arrangements described in the RSC, if implemented on the ground, will provide an effective safety management system. RSC acceptance does not mean the arrangements have been tested by HSE. The decision to accept a specific RSC does not on is own mean that a system is "safe". Nor is safety case assessment and acceptance a one-off process. When a RSC is accepted, it is the responsibility of the RSC duty holder to put into effect the practices and procedures set out in the RSC, and to operate to them. HSE will continue to audit, verify and validate this work, taking enforcement action where necessary. Changes to organisation, equipment, new activities, or improvements to standards, processes or control measures can all necessitate revision, assessment and consideration for acceptance of a new RSC. This process is necessarily very resource intensive for HSE, and for the duty holder and independent assessors.


  8.  At the time of writing (13 November 2001) LUL is operating under a RSC that was accepted by HSE in March 2000. This RSC (known as Version 2.5) deals with the structure that has been in place since April 2000 with London Underground responsible for operating the Underground service and three wholly owned subsidiaries responsible for maintaining and improving the infrastructure. HSE's acceptance of Version 2.5 made it clear that significant progress and improvement would need to be made by LUL and its infrastructure companies before the next revision, Version 3.0, could be accepted.

  9.  During 2001, HSE has been considering Version 3.0, which relates to the same structure, preparatory to PPP, with the infrastructure companies still in the public sector. HSE is assessing and considering for acceptance Version 3.0 against the requirements of the 2000 Regulations and the criteria and procedures in HMRI's Safety Case Assessment Manual.[14] HSE has also published its workplan[15], setting out its assessment criteria for Version 3.0. This also includes work elements relating to transfer of infrastructure companies to the private sector, involving a revised RSC that LUL plan to submit to HSE early in 2002 (known as Version 3.1 and discussed further below). Work elements also include consideration of issues raised by third parties, including trade unions and Transport for London. They also include the stakeholders' meeting organised by LUL on 19 September to discuss safety issues relating to the PPP.

  10.  Following satisfactory completion of the RSC assessment work, a separate safety case acceptance panel, drawn from within HSE but not involved in the detailed assessment work, will make the final decision on acceptance of Version 3.0. If HSE accepts Version 3.0, that decision would mean that HSE has judged that the Version 3.0 arrangements, providing they were implemented, capable of maintaining and improving safety standards.

  11.  More explicitly, acceptance of Version 3.0 would mean that:—

    (a)  LUL has made a satisfactory case under the 2000 Regulations that it has the ability, commitment and resources properly to assess and effectively to control risks to the health and safety of staff, contractors, passengers and the public and is thus able to move to the next stage of the PPP process; and

    (b)  Subject to LUL delivering the statutory safety improvement plan which is part of Version 3.0, and to continuing oversight of LUL's safety performance by HSE, HSE is content for the process to continue.

  12.  If accepted, Version 3.0 will then be amended by LUL (defined in the Regulations as a "material change") to reflect the planned transfer of the infrastructure companies to the private sector. This revision to LUL's RSC, known as Version 3.1, will be subject to the same rigorous HSE assessment/acceptance process. As indicated in the published workplan[16], as part of this HSE is currently conducting a comprehensive and resource intensive programme of work to satisfy itself that the preferred bidders for the infrastructure companies are capable of taking on the commitments given in LUL's RSC.

  13.  HSE expects that, subject to satisfactory responses from LUL and the preferred bidders, this process could be completed by March 2002. The transfer of the infrastructure companies to the private sector will not be able to proceed unless HSE has accepted Version 3.1 of the RSC.

  14.  This ongoing safety audit process is consistent with the Government's reply to a Parliamentary Question on 19 July 2001: "HSE now has a double lock on safety. Before the Tube modernisation plans can proceed, HSE must accept, firstly, LUL's safety plans and, secondly, its revised safety plans to reflect the role of the private sector bidders."


  15.  HSE continues to work closely and openly with all stakeholders, including LUL and its employee representatives.

  16.  A similar memorandum has been submitted to the Greater London Authority's scrutiny review.

Health and Safety Executive

13 November 2001

12   The Ladbroke Grove Rail Inquiry Part 2 Report by Rt Hon Lord Cullen PC, published September 2001, with particular reference to Chapter seven and Recommendations 18-23. Back

13   The Railways (Safety Case) Regulations 2000, Guidance on Regulations, published December 2000. Back

14   HSE Railways Safety Case Assessment Manual: Back

15   A Health and Safety Review of London Underground and its preparations for the public-private partnership (known in HSE as the "Red Book", with work elements at Annex 1): Back

16   A Health and Safety Review of London Underground and its preparations for the public-private partnership (known in HSE as the "Red Book", with work elements at Annex 1): Back

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