Memorandum by the Rail Safety and Standards
Board (FOR 123)
THE FUTURE OF RAILWAYS
1. The Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB)
is owned by the rail industry and is a not for profit body. It
was established on 1 April 2003 in response to a recommendation
made by Lord Cullen.
2. Our policies and management arrangements
are driven by the primary purpose of RSSB, which is set out in
the members' agreement under which we are constituted (Constitution
Agreement). The agreement states that RSSB's primary purpose is:
"To lead and facilitate the railway industry's
work to achieve continuous improvement in the health and safety
performance of the railways in Great Britain and thus to facilitate
the reduction of risk to passengers, employees and the public
so far as reasonably practicable, so aiding compliance by providers
of railway services with their obligations under health and safety
3. RSSB membership comprises 57 businesses,
including all the major duty holders in the national rail industry.
Membership is split into six categories consisting of passenger
train operators, non-passenger train operator (freight), Network
Rail, rolling stock owners, infrastructure contractors and suppliers.
4. The Board of RSSB comprises 12 non-executive
and three executive directors. The non executive directors consist
of a non-industry Chairman, four independent non-industry directors,
a director nominated by the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA), and
six rail industry directors, one from each of the categories of
RSSB membership. The executive directors consist of a chief executive,
two other executive directors and RSSB is made up of approximately
180 staff. RSSB's corporate governance structure is set out in
the appendix. RSSB has approximately 180 staff. The Rail Regulator,
the SRA and the HSE all receive Board papers and have a right
to attend and address Board meetings. The Health and Safety Executive
has exercised its right to attend and speak at Board meetings.
This engagement with the safety regulator is seen positively by
5. A more broadly based Advisory Committee
is in place to enable the input of the trades unions, the Rail
Passengers Council and other stakeholders not otherwise represented
on the Board.
6. It is the view of RSSB that the relationships
between members and RSSB are fundamental to the achievement of
the primary purpose, and that these are developing in a positive
manner. RSSB is also developing strong and constructive relationships
with the HSE, SRA and ORR. There is a recognition among our stakeholders
that RSSB can develop in a way that leads to it delivering increasing
value to the management of safety risks within the context of
the wider business risks faced by the industry.
7. In discharging our primary purpose RSSB's
principle functions include:
Co-ordinating the production of the
Railway Group Safety Plan.
Managing Railway Group Standards.
Facilitating and managing a programme
of health and safety research and development.
Facilitating the UK rail industry
involvement in the development of European legislation and standards.
Monitoring, reporting and informing
on health and safety performance trends (including producing an
Annual Safety Performance Report).
Helping the industry learn the safety
lessons from accidents through organising independent inquiries
and tracking industry responses to recommendations.
Disseminating and encouraging good
practice and encouraging and facilitating co-operation in each
case on health and safety matters in the railway industry.
Maintaining and developing the rail
industry's safety risk model.
Facilitating and supporting a range
of "common purpose" national initiatives including those
relating to SPAD (Signals passed at danger) management, level
crossing safety, track worker safety, route crime and a safety
8. All of RSSB's activities are mandated
on RSSB by its members through the Constitution Agreement. Adding
or subtracting activities is subject to approval by the members
and the Regulator. In combining together to cause RSSB to deliver
these functions, the industry has provided an efficient way to
address some of their safety responsibilities.
9. RSSB is conscious that safety is perceived
by many to be responsible for an increasing cost burden being
carried by the rail industry. Standards are often cited as the
reason for cost rises or for inflexible working. RSSB believes
that managing safety is an integral part of management and that
safety risk is an integral part of business risk. Controlling
the cost of safety is therefore fundamentally about good business
10. We recognise that in both our standards,
and other core functions, we can play a key role in helping the
industry to achieve cost effective safety and performance improvement.
Since our creation in April 2003 we have begun working with our
members to achieve those objectives and are taking the lead in
several initiatives, some of which are set out in paragraphs 11
11. StandardsOn 19 January 2004 a
new set of rules for the creation and modification of Railway
Group Standards will come into effect. Known as the Railway Group
Standards Code the rules were developed in a collaborative industry-working
group, widely consulted upon, and approved by a 100% vote among
our members. They provide for a greater industry involvement in
the process to justify and develop changes in standards. Under
the new rules, the content of all standards changes will be agreed
by groups whose members are drawn from all parts of the industry
and will be justified against objective criteriathus giving
the whole industry the opportunity to more directly affect the
contents of Railway Group Standards. From this month all Railway
Group Standards will be available freely via the Internet.
12. We are also working with the industry
to review and further enhance the process by which Railway Group
Standards are justified and developed so as to better meet the
needs of the industry and those that fund it. This work is being
done in close association with Network Rail, who are reviewing
their own arrangements for company standards and also to better
align Railway Group Standards with the emerging European Technical
Specifications for Interoperability (TSIs).
13. RSSB is leading the development of a
safety strategy for the "national" railway that will
provide a more effective strategic framework within which the
established Railway Group Safety Plan will be developed and updated
14. RSSB is managing an enabling project
to help the industry develop and apply agreed safety decision
criteria. This work is not only about safety; the decision criteria
have major implications for other industry outputs such as capacity,
performance and efficiency.
15. RSSB is developing arrangements that
will facilitate the industry optimising the management of key
16. RSSB is facilitating the engagement
of the rail industry in European initiatives, particularly relating
to interoperability and enhancing the level of scrutiny that is
applied to justifying standards. Over the next few years TSIs
will specify an increasing proportion of the industry's interfaces,
and, accordingly, the role of Railway Group Standards is expected
to reduce. RSSB's focus is therefore likely to shift toward helping
the industry input to the development of TSIs and integrating
them into the national network.
17. Network Rail is one of the 57 members
of RSSB and has a non-executive director on our Board. Many senior
Network Rail personnel participate as members of technical Subject
Committees that oversee the development of Railway Group Standards.
The formal relationship with the HSE is their right to be an observer
at our Board Meetings and to be consulted on a range of RSSB activities.
Many contacts exist at the operating level with Network Rail and
the HSE, as well as with the SRA, ORR, train operators (passenger
and freight), industry suppliers and many other stakeholders.
RSSB is also a member of the Standards Strategy Group (SSG) which
is chaired by the SRA.
18. RSSB recognises the extent to which
railway safety issues have, in recent years, been a matter of
public concern. Furthermore our ongoing engagement with stakeholders
(part of the process to develop a railway safety strategy) is
highlighting the fact that senior managers in the industry consider
that the amplification in the media of these concerns creates
a climate within which there is an aversion to safety risk. Recent
high profile prosecutions have also had an effect. Many of the
initiatives mentioned in this memorandum are designed to support
the development of both competence and a greater confidence within
the industry in taking decisions that affect safety, and in exercising
engineering and operational judgement.
Rail Safety and Standards Board