Woman wearing a face mask travelling on a train

RSSB helping rail industry monitor Covid-19 risk

As rail passenger numbers continue to increase with restrictions lifting, RSSB has been using transmission modelling to help the rail industry understand and remain aware of risk.

Experts at the rail safety body have been using their Covid Transmission Model to help provide informed estimates of virus transmission risks on trains, providing operators and the industry with up-to-date data to help plan for different scenarios.

The RSSB model aligns with the Government’s roadmap, while staying alert to the potential risk from variants, and is helping maximise safety.

Providing an independent view of the average risk every two weeks, the model combines passenger demand and carriage occupancy data. It then also takes into account the benefits of heating, ventilation and air conditions, as well as increased protection against the severe effects of the virus provided by vaccination.

Collectively, this information helps give a much richer picture of the risk profile for different circumstances and assumptions, allowing the rail sector to plan for a number of scenarios rather than relying on a single probability.

Current analysis shows that the risk of serious harm from Covid-19 while travelling by train remains low at present - with RSSB saying “this means people will be able to continue to travel with confidence and use trains more extensively as restrictions ease”.

RSSB has been updating senior decision makers from rail companies, Government and the regulator during bi-weekly calls. Analysts are providing industry and government policy makers with a range of forecasts so they can plan ahead and have time to react if there needs to be a change of course.

RSSB’s Director of System Safety and Health, Ali Chegini said: “It’s fantastic that we are seeing more people travelling by train, and passengers can feel confident that rail companies have done their homework to protect their safety and wellbeing.

“Our data and research are helping train companies adapt to changing circumstances and plan ahead."

“The data suggests we can all afford to be cautiously optimistic, especially if the vaccination programme continues to provide protection against the virus, so the prospects are good. However, we do have to keep a close eye on variants, and be open-minded where there is still some uncertainty.

“By monitoring the data in the way that we are, we can help government and industry be ready to react where necessary.”

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