Select Committee on Transport Written Evidence

Supplementary memorandum by Network Rail (FOR 57C)


  Thank you for the opportunity to attend and give evidence to the Transport Select Committee on 7 January 2004.

  Network Rail has been asked to provide additional information to assist the Committee with its review, this information is summarised below.


  The Railway Safety Case is assessed and approved by HSE who are also responsible for enforcing its compliance through local and national inspectors. The Railway Safety Case Regulations dictate that each Railway Safety Case is subject to a review every three years (known as the triennial review). This requires each Safety Case holder to undertake a fundamental review of their Safety Case and propose enhancements to reflect changes to risk, enhancements to risk control measures and general improvements. The changes are then reviewed and approved by HSE.

  In addition to the above, Safety Case holders are required to operate an internal change control procedure to ensure any significant changes (such as organisation, risk control, scope), are reviewed and validated before implementation. Significant or material changes also need to be approved by HSE before implemented.


  The basic day to day operating budget for Network Rail's Safety Department in 2003-04 is £59 million. However, this must be put in the context that a large proportion of the company's total resource is devoted to delivering a safe and efficient railway.

  The breakdown is as follows:

                —  Headquarters £15.5 million          —  Regions & Railway Estates £3.0 million          —  HMRI1 £4.4 million          —  British Transport Police1 £36.5 million £59.4 million

Note  1  Network Rail is required to fund a significant element of the total HMRI and British Transport Police operational costs.

  In addition, Network Rail has a Company Safety and Environmental Plan which sets out objectives and actions to improve health, safety and environment, performance. The 2003-04 Plan, has £82.7 million of capital funding which includes £39 million to complete installation of TPWS. Other main expenditure is on Level Crossing enhancement, Cat A SPAD mitigation, installation of Automatic Track Warning Systems, treatment for contaminated land, pollution prevention work at depots and fire safety controls.


  In our evidence, we highlighted the additional cost of TPWS caused by the unjustified level of fitment specified in the Railway Safety Regulations 1999.

  This evidence is supported as follows:

    (a)  In February 1998 Railtrack formally issued a discussion document to the industry proposing a rationale for TPWS signal fitment that would satisfy ALARP. In outline terms this proposed fitment of approximately 4,000 signals on the basis of risk. It was envisaged that this would save 2.4 equivalent fatalities per annum over a 25 year period, at a cost in current money of approximately £190 million (signals and train cabs).

    (b)  In May 1998, the HSC issued a Consultation Document on Proposals for Regulations to mandate fitment of TPWS at all convergent junction signals amounting to close to 50% of signals on the Railtrack network and added fitment of buffer stops, permanent and temporary speed restrictions as well as options to replace MK1 Rolling Stock. This was accompanied by a Cost Benefit Analysis. A copy of the HSC Cost Benefit Analysis is tabled as Appendix A.

    (c)  In August 1998, Railtrack presented a fully detailed response to the HSC Discussion Document. In essence Railtrack's position was that the HSC Recommendations, did not represent an optimum solution and that the HSC Cost Benefit Analysis underestimated the costs and overstated the risks.

        A copy of the Railtrack response is tabled as Appendix B. Specifically quoted from the Railtrack response is the concluding statement on Page 10.

"We believe the Regulations as currently drafted do not represent an optimum solution and that the HSE's analysis has understated costs and overstated risks. We are however, committed to moving ahead with TPWS implementation—but we believe a more targeted approach is required. We believe if our suggestions are adopted a greater reduction in risk can be achieved at lower cost representing better value for money and a significantly better gain in safety at the national transport system level. It will also render an early implementation completion more deliverable."

    (d)  30 July 1999 Railway Safety Regulations enacted and came into force on 30 January 2000. The final Regulations largely ignored Railtrack's response and suggested amendments. The Regulations required a very significant increase in fitment scope compared to that proposed by Railtrack and the final cost of fitment to support the HSC Regulation was £575 million (signal and train cabs). This scope of fitment is estimated to save 2.6 equivalent fatalities per annum of a cost per life saved of £8.8 million compared to Railtack's original proposal at £3.6 million per life.

    (e)  This position is supported by an independent review of TPWS Efficiency carried out by the consultants Booze Allen Hamilton on behalf of the Office of the Rail Regulator during 2003. Section 4 of the report confirmed that the Railtrack response and concerns on the proposed Regulations were largely ignored by HSC and as a result their impact assessment was not adequately informed.


  At the Select Committee, the HSE explained that they classify Rail as a High Hazard Industry on the basis that rail operators require a Safety Case, approval of this Safety Case through an independent permissioning regime operating by HSE and also that rail has the potential for "low frequency but high consequence events". Network Rail and the Train Operating Companies do not accept this classification which is frequently used by representatives of both HSC and HSE. To date our concern over this classification has been raised directly with representatives of HSC (Commissioners) and HSE at a number of different forums such as RIAC, (Rail Industry Advisory Committee) and SAC (Safety Advisory Committee).


  The HSE has significant powers over Network Rail and train operators as the rail industry safety regulator. This position is further complicated by the HSE also having a role in approving not just Railway Safety Cases but also products, equipment, assets and trains in accordance with the ROTS (Railway and Other Transport System) Regulations. Furthermore the HSE also has a role in accident investigation and prosecution which often does not appear to be compatible with the rail industry requirement to establish "blame free root cause".

  Detailed below are various recent examples of inappropriate and unjustified HSE action.

    (a)  TPWS Regulations—see above.

    (b)  Permissive Working—following a number of mid platform collisions, the HSE mandated that a review of stations where the practice of allowing two trains to occupy the same platform was undertaken. This resulted in an approximate 60% reduction in the locations where this practice was historically practiced with the associated impact on capacity and flexibility. The HSE then required the industry through Railway Safety (now RSSB) to install mid-platform signals when stations undergo resignalling/remodelling schemes through the adoption of a Railway Group Standard. This has generated significant additional scheme costs and also created new safety risks associated with SPADs due to change in driving technique. This requirement is being challenged by Network Rail.

    (c)  Railway Principles and Guidance—The HSE published Railway Principles and Guidance documents which lay down minimum requirements for installation and operation of railway activities such as signalling, level crossings, electrification, etc. Principles and Guidance documents are not meant to be retrospective, however local inspectors are seeking to use these documents to drive enhanced standards on existing level crossings. Recent examples include the Cambrian Line where the local HSE inspector is seeking to upgrade crossings from private to public road, with the resultant cost associated with installing higher standards of level crossing control.

    (d)  Risk Assessment—Network Rail is required to undertake routine and specialist risk assessment to justify decisions. If the results of these assessments contradict a local HSE inspectors opinion of a risk, then Network Rail frequently has difficulty in making changes. This is often because local inspectors do not have a consistent view of ALARP. Recent examples include allowing 2 trains on the Forth Bridge, new stations in Scotland and Selective Door Opening.

    (e)  CDM (Construction Design and Management) Regulations—Following the introduction of the CDM regulations in the 1990s, there has and remains significant confusion over the application of the legislation in relation to railway infrastructure maintenance. There is a lack of understanding within the HSE over role of principal contractor, client and designed with the result that compliance is unnecessarily difficult and time consuming.

    (f)  Electrified Lines—Warning Signs are required on all overhead line masts to comply with the Electricity at Work Regulations 2002. This is required despite the fact that all rail staff are trained in electrification hazards and the railways is protected from unauthorised trespass.

  I hope this provides all the additional information you are looking for.

John Armitt

Chief Executive

19 January 2004

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