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ORR WARNS AGAINST COMPLACENCY ON TRACK SAFETY

Improvements in worker safety and infrastructure management needed

Latest safety data shows Britain’s railways remain among the safest in Europe, but the rail regulator has warned the rail industry against complacency and called for improvements in track worker safety and the management of its infrastructure, such as bridges and tunnels.

The ORR Annual Safety Report assesses safety data and highlights analysis from ‘on the ground’ safety inspections to provide an update on the current state of health and safety on Britain’s railways.

The report shows Britain’s railways are performing better than all other European railways in managing passenger and level crossing rail safety. This is a significant achievement on such a busy network, with record numbers of passengers now choosing to travel by rail.

Considerable room for improvement in specific areas

ORR highlight that further improvements can be made, especially to protect the safety of track workers, those working on rail construction sites and passengers at stations or on platforms. The rail industry must also “develop better plans to manage worker fatigue and occupational health”.

Evidence shows Network Rail needs to gain better understanding of the condition of its bridges, tunnels and other assets to help the planning of maintenance and renewals work. This will improve their resilience and lower the risk posed by their failure.

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

“Latest safety statistics show Britain’s rail industry ranks among the safest in Europe, and best at managing passenger and level crossing rail safety. But there can be no room for complacency. ORR’s analysis shows there is considerable room for improvement in specific areas, such as planned track maintenance, management of civil structures and the safety of track workers. It is now essential the rail industry works as one to deliver an even safer railway.

To maintain improvements the regulator has recently approved increased funding for the next five years to improve safety-critical areas of Britain’s railways, with additional money to improve the condition of structures such as bridges or tunnels, as well as to upgrade and close level crossings.”

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