Latest Rail News

03.02.16

RAIB to probe operators’ safety practices and risk-reducing tech

The circumstances of accidents and near-miss incidents involving train and track workers outside possessions last year is the main scope of RAIB’s latest investigation.

The review will act as a complementary class investigation to a major report published in August that collated data over a two-year period to better understand the safety arrangements for staff during infrastructure engineering works.

At the time, it concluded that significant irregularities in these arrangements put track workers at risk between three and five times each week on average.

It has now set out to investigate similar arrangements under all circumstances other than those associated with possessions of the line (where a line is closed to all trains other than those directly involved in the work itself).

The rail industry’s independent investigatory branch will also seek to understand how and why decisions are made in practice about protection arrangements, as well as identify possible trends in the use of different types of arrangements over the last five years.

Part of this will include pinpointing the key factors in planning and undertaking work on site, including the behaviour of workers themselves, that can increase the likelihood track workers’ protection from trains being compromised.

Railway infrastructure operators will be examined to assess which working practices are employed to promote the safety of its track workers.

But new technologies will also be assessed, including the current and possible future availability and effectiveness of innovations that could reduce the risk in working on the track outside possessions.

As always, there will be a specific look into Network Rail’s programmes, this time focusing on those designed to reduce staff risks.

RAIB will engage with staff involved in planning safe systems of work and in implementing safety arrangements on site, as well as consult with industry bodies interested in track worker safety and consider its own previous investigation findings.

(Top image c. Alvey and Towers)

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