Further memorandum by Network Rail (FOR
THE FUTURE OF THE RAILWAYS
WITH HSE/HMRI AND
1.1 Network Rail is the Infrastructure Controller
for the mainline railways of England, Wales and Scotland. Network
Rail is responsible for the safe and efficient signalling of trains;
operation of managed stations; and maintenance and renewal of
the rail infrastructure. In its capacity as Infrastructure Controller,
Network Rail is also responsible for the scrutiny of train operators
safety cases and the monitoring of their safety performance.
1.2 In order to operate, Network Rail is
required to hold a Railway Safety Case accepted by the Health
& Safety Executive (HSE). The Safety Case sets out how Network
Rail will safely manage its operation. Network Rail is also required
to have a license from the Office of the Rail Regulator (ORR).
This amongst other things, requires Network Rail to comply with
Railway Group Standards, abide by the Railway Group Standards
Code and be an active member of the Rail Safety and Standards
1.3 The HSE, through Her Majesty's Rail
Inspectorate (HMRI) is the safety regulator for Network Rail and
undertakes the following activities:
Assesses and formally accepts the
Network Rail Railway Safety Case.
Monitors and enforces compliance
by Network Rail with its Railway Safety Case and legislation.
Approves new works and equipment
before use by Network Rail.
Investigates serious incidents and
Monitors progress with public inquiry
Develops and reviews rail safety
Network Rail has a proactive programme of HSE
liaison at all levels in the company to address both operational
issues and strategic changes.
1.4 Network Rail is one of the leading members
of RSSB, the rail industry safety leadership body. Network Rail
supports RSSB by provision of:
specialised personnel to help develop
Railway Group Standards; and
input to the development of the Railway
Group Safety Plan and safety strategies.
2. NETWORK RAIL
The organisation roles and responsibilities
for management of safety in Network Rail are contained in the
company's accepted Railway Safety Case. In simple terms, responsibility
for day to day delivery of safety rest with frontline managers
through an Area and Regional structure. At the forefront of safety
delivery are Network Rail signallers, controllers and maintenance
delivery staff who are required to undertake their duties in accordance
with company procedures, standards, the National Rule Book and
Railway Group Standards.
Frontline personnel are supported by technical
specialists in each Region and at Headquarters who set the control
framework and monitor its application. The company has established
a tactical and strategic meeting structure to review safety performance
and provide a platform for continuous improvement. The company
also possesses specialist resources to undertake root cause investigation
into relevant health and safety incidents or issues.
In addition, the company strictly controls changes
to its infrastructure, methods of working and organisation through
the Safety Case validation process operated by the dedicated Board
member for Safety.
3. COST OF
Network Rail believes that passengers should
be able to consider safety on the railway to be a given and as
such safety is intrinsic to everything we do. Naturally, it is
possible to quantify the cost of specific initiatives to improve
safetysuch as the recently completed fitment of the Train
Protection & Warning System (TPWS)but since the needs
of safety arise in every activity we carry out as a company, this
does not give a full picture of the "cost of safety".
The Rail Regulator has recently announced Network
Rail's income level for the next five years and with certainty
over this funding level the company will now plan specific expenditures
over the period to ensure that we continue to provide a safe railway,
as well one which is progressively more reliable and more efficient.
4. ISSUES FOR
The issue of rail safety costs has become a
topical issue along with the perception of a risk averse culture
within the industry, however this debate is often characterised
by generalisation rather than specifics. In this section, Network
Rail briefly sets out what it sees as the issues for the Committee
in reviewing this issue.
4.1 Appendix 1 demonstrates the significantly
improving trend of railway safety since 1945. This trend has continued
through the privatisation process, yet despite this railways continue
to be classified as a "high hazard" industry along with
nuclear, offshore oil and chemical industries by the HSE. This
classification is questionable as rail does not pose a risk to
geographic communities in the same way as these other industries
and this designation adversely affects the insurance risk profile/perception
with the resultant increases in costs. We believe this to be a
significant contributory factor into the rise in Network Rail's
annual insurance bill from £25 million-£100 million
over the last 12 months. Similar situations exist with many companies
across the rail industry.
4.2 The HSC/HSE are governed by the requirement
to address the needs of society and this is referred in their
recent paper, "Safety on the Railway: Shaping the Future",
on the future of rail safety legislation. It is unclear to Network
Rail what the specific societal concerns are concerning rail safety,
how they are measured, how these relate to actual safety performance
of rail and society's willingness to pay for further improvements.
The Committee may wish to consider whether societal concern is
in fact being confused with the understandable media reaction
when an accident occurs.
4.3 The HSE is responsible for the enforcement
of rail safety but not for safety on any other mode of transport,
whether road, aviation or shipping. The Committee may wish to
consider whether this situation may tend to an uneven playing
One example of where this uneven playing field
may be witnessed relates to level crossings. Network Rail considers
that it would be much more cost effective to fit road control
measures at level crossings, especially given increasing traffic
volumes. However the HSE focus is on level crossing enhancement
by Network Rail even though the root cause of almost all accidents
is road driver misuse.
4.4 Network Rail as an employer and Railway
Safety Case holder is required to comply with national UK legislation.
The extent and range of this legislation is very significant and
ranges from general requirements under the Health and Safety and
Work Act, rail specific safety legislation as well as general
national legislation on employment, health, safety and the environment.
Network Rail is concerned that rail is
facing an ever-increasing burden of European and domestic legislation
and the opportunity must be taken to review and simplify the framework.
The framework must also recognise the reality of:
Age of rail infrastructure.
Ability of rail to comply with legislation
at reasonable and proportionate cost.
Opportunity to accept alternative
means of compliance if rail can demonstrate a cost effective alternative.
Examples of legislation opportune for review
include Railways and other Transport Systems (ROTS) Regulations,
Railway Safety Critical Work Regulations, together with the scope
of Health and Safety at Work Act in relation to rail, Construction
Design & Management (CDM) regulations and Electricity at Work.
4.5 The new European Rail Agency (ERA) will
oversee safety and set standards. In the view of Network Rail,
there is a danger that the creation of the new agency will compound
complexity and it is vital that the future relationship between
the ERA and the various UK safety bodies is clarified.
We are also concerned about the possibility
of the duplication of approval requirements and about the potential
cost of meeting conventional and high speed interoperability specifications.
It will also be important to ensure consistency of European safety
targets with those set by UK authorities.
It is vital that the DfT, SRA and
UK rail companies address this issue.
4.6 Network Rail is committed to playing
an active role in the review and development of "fit for
purpose" Railway Group and Company Standards.
This review is required because since privatisation,
standards have assumed quasi-legal status in the safety and economic
regulatory framework within rail industry, with the result that
enforcement and prosecution action is taken in the event of non-compliance.
It is worth considering that standards often
set out the rail industry controls to implement compliance with
general legislation. Whenever new or amended legislation is introduced
a change to standards usually becomes necessary. Given the potential
for future legislative change, this workload may increase along
with commensurate cost to the industry.
4.7 A significant proportion of risk on
the railway is caused by trespass, vandalism and other route crime
with a crime committed on the railway every 4½ minutes and
64,000 objects placed on the tracks each year. Overall, there
are 27 million incidents of trespass on the railway each year,
of which 10 million are conducted by children.
Network Rail is working with industry partners
to highlight the dangers of route crime and the Committee may
wish to consider whether current sentencing policies adopted by
magistrates offer an appropriate deterrent given the seriousness
of the problem.
4.8 Many of the issues identified is this
paper are merely symptoms of the broader structure of safety regulation
that exists within the rail industry. Network Rail believe that
what is needed is a consistent approach to standard setting, regulation
and enforcement based on sound risk analysis and an accurate economic
evaluation of consequences.
Network Rail supports the existing work of the
RSSB and HSE to review the way in which they operate and the role
that they should play. However, these are only two players in
the wider regulatory framework. It is vital that these reviews
are placed in context with the wider regulatory framework (including
each other) with a common industry-wide purpose and coordinated
5. RISK AVERSION
Network Rail's view is that rail managers, signallers,
supervisors and engineers have become personally more risk averse
due to the increased likelihood of personal prosecution in the
aftermath of accidents.
Lord Cullen recognised a tendency within rail
accident investigation to focus on prosecution rather than the
identification of root cause and prevention of recurrence. Network
Rail hopes that with the creation of the RAIB the opportunity
is taken to ensure appropriate balance in future investigations.
In Network Rail's case the threat of prosecution
is real with a number of employees already facing personal prosecution
and others undergoing formal police interviews under caution.
It is not possible to quantify the impact of
this on the decision-making of rail engineers and managers, but
the issue continues to be one of concern to the company.