Select Committee on Transport Written Evidence

Supplementary memorandum by the HSE (OPT 21A)

  Thank you for your letter of 30 January 2003 requesting additional information, following my attendance with Bob Smallwood at the Committee meeting on 22 January. I propose to deal with your requests in turn.

  1.  The question of whether there might be "grandfather rights" allowing trains without tannoys being replaced by others without an electronic system (Q 331).

  1.1  All new rolling stock must provide a public address system so train staff can communicate directly with passengers. These are often used for important functions other than safety.

  2.  Whether the HSE routinely asks for information about the time taken to evacuate rolling stock (Q 344). The Committee would also be interested in any work done on the likely need to evacuate from one carriage into another.

  2.1  Train Operating Companies (TOCs) have to submit technical documents to HSE (rolling stock supporting cases) before bringing in new rolling stock. HSE assesses these to consider if risks have been reduced "so far as is reasonably practicable". As part of this process, questions are asked about measures in place to manage evacuation and escape. The detailed design calculations, including emergency evacuation times etc are not reviewed by HSE, but they are examined by an independent industry body — the Vehicle Acceptance Body—that assesses the detailed design calculations against the industry's Railway Group Standard. HSE has a role in commenting on such Railway Group Standards.

  2.2  As stated in HSE's memoranda to the Committee, the need for train evacuations is relatively rare and it is usually much safer for passengers to stay on board the train, rather than face the risks posed by moving trains and "live" track.

  2.3  HSE has done no work on incidents where passengers are evacuated from one carriage to another, because external side doors always provide passengers with an alternative escape route.

  2.4  Network Rail approves the use of rolling stock on specific routes and this involves, amongst other things, checking if there is sufficient clearance to use external doors for passenger evacuation. Network Rail does not approve trains made up of units without interconnecting doors to run on lines where there is insufficient clearance for external doors to be used as the primary means of passenger escape. However, there are very few routes in Britain where either front or back-end train evacuations are necessary.

  2.5  HSE approves units without interconnecting doors because they have safety advantages. The door-frame structure needed for the provision of front and back escape routes can severely restrict the driver's view out of the cab and so, it is preferable not to fit doors for front and back escape when side evacuation is possible.

  3  Whether the HSE was involved in the evacuation exercise of a Virgin Voyager train described by Mr Green (Q 345).

  3.1  HSE was not involved.

  4.  The role and composition of the Human Factors Working Group of the Rail Industry Adviser Committee mentioned in (Q 365).

  4.1  The Health and Safety Commission's (HSC) Human Factors working group is a sub-group of HSC's Railway Industry Advisory Committee. Its terms of reference are to:

    —  review industry progress in collecting evidence to support health and safety related research into human factors in the rail industry. Including studies related to safety critical rail workers' performance (as recommended in the HSC's Action Plan developed following the Southall Rail Accident Report), legitimate passenger use of the railways, workforce behaviour (including managerial staff), organisational design and management culture;

    —  set priorities and encourage partnerships in relation to the funding of such research;

    —  facilitate the identification, evaluation, communication and promotion of best practice on the assessment of railways human factors studies and its integration into health and safety policy, design and operations, drawing on experience within UK and international industries;

    —  review progress on Human Factors research in other industries;

    —  provide an all industry forum (including its service suppliers) for discussion of issues relating to railways human factors and how it impacts on health and safety within the rail industry; and

    —  advise the Railway Industry Advisory Committee of measures or actions that could be taken to improve overall rail health and safety as a result of its work.

  The membership of RIAC's human factors working group are:

    —  Aiden Nelson—Chair (Railway Safety);

    —  Ann Mills (Railway Safety);

    —  Emma Lowe (Network Rail);

    —  Jane Rajan (Ergonomiq Ltd);

    —  Phil Dee (Rail, Maritime and Transport workers union);

    —  Ian Wilson (Rail Passengers Council);

    —  Caroline Horbury (London Underground Limited);

    —  Les Allan (Amalgamated Engineering and Electrical Union);

    —  Graham Thomas (Thames Trains);

    —  Dave Bennett (Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen);

    —  Ray Metcalfe (Rail Industry Association);

    —  David Woodhouse (Heritage Railway);

    —  Steve Bence (Association of Train Operating Companies);

    —  David Walmsley (temporary representative for SERCO Metrolink Ltd);

    —  Martin Anderson/Claire Dickinson (HSE's Hazardous Installations Directorate);

    —  Steve Bliss (temporary representative for HSE's HMRI);

    —  Les Philpott (HSE's Directorate of Railway Policy); and

    —  Maxine Burke (HSE's Directorate of Railway Policy).

  5.  The guidance document on design of trains mentioned in Q 314 (see Annex A).

  6.  Statistics on accidents occasioned by trains being longer than the platforms they stop at.

  The information gathered for the purposes of HSE accident statistics does not enable identification of accidents that have occurred where the train is longer than the platform and passengers have disembarked onto the track. However, the statistics from a more general classification on "passenger injuries alighting from a train not at a station" include incidents occurring at short platforms. The data for the last couple of years is:

Incidents where passenger are injured alighting from a train not at a station


* Information is only available up to the end of January 2003.

  In all of these incidents passengers required hospital treatment, but none were fatal. Injuries not requiring hospital treatment are not reportable to HSE.

Anne Sharp


February 2003

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