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13.07.16

Rail safety success hailed as level crossing deaths lowest since 1996

Britain’s rail safety record has been commended as the industry’s annual safety performance report shows that there were just three level crossing fatalities in 2015-16.

The report, from the Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB), shows that level crossings are safer than ever, with the lowest fatality level since 1996-1997, just four incidents of trains colliding with vehicles in the past year, and a decreasing rate of near misses.

In contrast, there were 11 fatalities in 2014-15 and eight in the year before that. Overall, the measure of fatality and weighted injuries (FWI) has fallen from 11.8 to 3.7 in a single year.

Dr George Bearfield, RSSB’s director of system safety, said: “Britain’s railways are not only one of the safest in Europe but also by far the safest form of land transport in this country.  Taking the train is 22 times safer than travelling by car and over 1,200 times safer than by motorcycle.

“The achievements on safety are being made at the same time that record numbers of people are using the railway, and that doesn’t happen automatically. It’s down to a dedicated rail workforce looking after each other, their customers and the wider public combined with our industry’s mature and open approach to incident reporting and sustained efforts by everyone to tackle safety issues in a coordinated way that has delivered the impressive figures we are releasing today.

“No one is complacent about safety and there are clear areas where risk still needs to be managed; such as on stations, assaults, as well as areas where we simply don’t have good enough data yet, such as health and wellbeing. However, the industry is on top of these issues with programmes of activity to try to bring the risk down, and in time to come, I’m confident we will see improvements.”

Network Rail has run a campaign in the past year to raise awareness of the dangers of level crossings, as well as closing over 990 level crossings since 2010.

The Rail Accident Investigation Branch is currently investigating the death of a pedestrian on the Grimston Lane level crossing near Felixstowe in February.

A spokesperson for the Rail Delivery Group, which represents rail operators and Network Rail, said: “The safety of our passengers is our top priority, which is why the rail industry spends millions of pounds funding the work of the British Transport Police.

“Overall, crime on the railway has been falling year-on-year but any increase in specific types of crime is concerning and the industry will be continuing to invest in CCTV and extra security to help keep passengers safe.”

There were no passenger or workforce fatalities in train accidents for the ninth year running, and the total harm from train accidents was at 0.4 FWI, the lowest in 10 years. It was also the first year on record with no workforce fatalities.

There were 277 signals passed at danger (SPADs), compared to 298 the previous year, and 252 incidents of suicide or suspected suicide, a decrease from 287 in 2014-15.

However, there was a small increase in fatalities due to trespass, from 27 to 30, and 10 fatalities at stations, compared to four the previous year. Of these, six occurred at the platform edge, although none were related to getting on or off trains: three related to assaults, and one was caused by a station sign falling from its mountings in high winds.

There were 3,737 assaults reported in stations and on trains, compared to 3,004 the previous year. However, the biggest increase was in common assault, whereas the more serious categories of actual bodily harm and grievous bodily harm had a small decrease.

Cases of harassment increased from 620 to 1,037, although the RSSB said this was partly due to an improvement in how the incidents are reported.

Figures from British Transport Police last year showed an increase in violent and sexual offences on the rail network despite an 8% decrease in crime overall.

(Image c. Alvey and Towers)

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Comments

Dr P.N. Jarvis   15/07/2016 at 20:02

They have shut our local crossing to what was our ferry, despite it being used since at least 1283. They won't build us a footbridge instead. The legalities are being contested in a leisurely way but as to actual action.....hmm.

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