Railway safety and crime

14.07.20

ORR publishes rail safety report

The rail regulator’s Annual Report of Health and Safety Performance on Britain’s Railways shows that despite safety across Britain’s railways has developed over the last 12 months, exceptional seasonal weather conditions continue to unfavourably affect safety performance.

The report has also found that more action needs to be taken to tackle the impacts of climate change on the railway which has seen risks increase over the last year.

The number of earthwork failures and trains striking objects, such as trees, increased almost four fold compared to last year.

Infrastructure is impacted by examples of climate changes such as hot dry summers followed by high rainfall, which can cause earthwork to collapse, while movement in clay embankments can adversely affect the precision layout of the tracks.

 Although Network Rail has put forward plans to address climate change and increase resilience to extreme weather, ORR reports today that these plans are not keeping up with the frequency and severity of weather events.

ORR have said Network Rail must focus more on improving identification of impending failure by means of remote monitoring and on refining the measures it has to respond to forecasts of extreme conditions.

The report also found that progress has been made around level crossing safety, with a repeat of last year’s lowest-ever number of two level crossing fatalities and praised Network Rail’s long-term plan for efficient improvement to level crossings.

Ian Prosser CBE, HM Chief Inspector of Railways, said: “There’s no doubt our railway remains one of the safest in Europe. There have been improvements in health and safety to the operation of Britain’s railways and this bears testimony to the great efforts made across the industry over the past decade.

“However, the last year saw significant increases in flooding, earthwork failures and trains striking trees on the line, which had a big impact on the number of delays on the network.

“It is so important that the sector employs best practice if we are to meet all the pressures on the network in the future and to make sure the railway plays its full role on climate change and reducing carbon emissions.”

Images: ORR

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