Britain’s railway one of the safest in Europe – ORR annual health and safety report 2012

Posted: 24 July 2012 | | No comments yet

Britain has one of the safest railways in Europe…

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Britain has one of the safest railways in Europe, but the industry must develop better safety management systems to maintain improvements, says the Office of Rail Regulation’s (ORR) annual health and safety report.

ORR’s annual health and safety report 2011-12 provides an update on key health and safety issues facing Britain’s railways. This year’s report highlights a number of successes, including:

  • A reduction in the level of passenger harm – with the number of passenger journeys taken into account, the overall rate of harm decreased by 12% over the past year, to the lowest level ever recorded.
  • London Underground, Overground and Docklands Light Railway all achieved a year without any workforce and industry caused passenger fatalities.
  • Level crossing safety improved, as levels of recorded harm reduced by 15% over the past year, maintaining historically low rates.

The report also highlights some areas of concern, on which the regulator is pressing for improvements:

  • An increase in the number of potentially higher risk train accidents from 18 to 34 over the past year – but still the second lowest total on record.
  • Workforce safety on the mainline railway deteriorated slightly, with increased levels of harm to train drivers and on board crew. With the number of workforce hours taken into account, the rate of harm increased by 4% over the past year.
  • ORR’s safety enforcement on heritage railways increased, as the number of improvement and prohibition notices to ensure safety on the lines increased from four in 2010-11 to ten in 2011-12.

ORR’s Director of Rail Safety, Ian Prosser, said:

“It is to the rail industry’s great credit that safety on Britain’s railways is now largely taken for granted, comparing favourably to travel by road.

“Our 2012 health and safety report shows that Britain continues to have one of the safest railways in Europe. Indeed, safety on our railways is improving in key areas, with latest data highlighting that passenger harm has reduced to its lowest ever recorded level.

“However, over the past year we have had to step in to ensure safety on mainline and heritage lines, and train and freight services. It is vital that the whole rail industry continues to work together, builds on its successes, and tackles areas where there is room for improvement.

“Over the coming year, our inspectors will focus on helping the industry to develop a cutting-edge approach to safety. This will mean the industry making greater use of proactive, forward-looking safety systems, implementing change safely against a background of industry reform and embedding a professional culture where health and safety is ‘front and centre’ of everything it does. This will be the key to long-term sustainable success.”

To view ORR’s annual health and safety report, visit:

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