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Railhub Archive
1998-01-14 ORR-001
Office of the Rail Regulator


Rail Regulator consults on safety standards code

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Office of the Rail Regulator

Rail Regulator consults on safety standards code

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Railway group standards code - consultation on revised code proposed by Railtrack (ORR, 1998)


14 January 1998
source Office of the Rail Regulator
type Press release

note ORR/98/02

The processes for determining the safety standards on the railway come under scrutiny today with the publication by the Rail Regulator of a consultation document which discusses a proposal by Railtrack to revise its Railway Group Standards Code.

Railway Group Standards are key technical standards and operating procedures for the railway. Compliance with them is a requirement of the Railway Safety Cases held by train and station operating companies and Railtrack. It is also a requirement of licences held by Railtrack and train, station and depot operators.

The Regulator, Mr John Swift QC, who is seeking the views of the railway industry and its funders, says : "Railtrack is obliged to prepare, and comply with, this Code under the terms of its Network Licence. The Code is vital for ensuring effective and efficient achievement of safety on the rail network, which is the overriding concern of all those involved in the provision and regulation of railway services, and which is regulated by the Health and Safety Executive. But it also underpins growth, investment and improvement in the railway, encouragement of which is one of my prime objectives. It is this aspect of Railtrack's proposed revisions to the Code on which I am seeking views."

"The Group Standards Code authorises the existing Railway Group Standards and sets out the arrangements under which they can be changed. Ensuring the safe operation of Railtrack's network, and of trains and other assets used on it, is the primary purpose of these Standards.

I am seeking the advice of the Health & Safety Executive on the sufficiency of Railtrack's proposals to ensure the Code's primary purpose continues to be satisfied.

"Often, however, there will be choices as to the best means of achieving those standards of safety. Under the terms of its Network Licence, Railtrack's Safety & Standards Directorate is charged with ensuring that the way in which such choices are made is fair and reasonable and acts to promote the use and development of the rail network. The Safety & Standards Directorate must be independent of the line management of Railtrack, and must be seen to be so. It must operate openly and transparently."

Mr Swift said :"Given the many changes that have taken place in the railway industry since the Code was originally promulgated in April 1994, I asked Railtrack to undertake a review, in consultation with the railway industry. That review has led Railtrack to propose these changes. Before deciding whether the proposed revised Code meets the requirements of Railtrack's Network Licence, I want to know whether those who are affected by the operation of the Code, and who are responsible both for safety and for the promotion of growth, investment and improvement of rail services, are satisfied that these proposed changes are the right step forward.

"To assist me in assessing whether the proposed Code is consistent with Railtrack's obligations under its Licence, and that it does support innovation and growth, I am seeking views from the railway industry and funders of railway services. In particular I want to see commitment from the industry to play an active role in the Railway Group Standards process, advising Railtrack's Safety & Standards Directorate both on strategic matters and on specific issues, and participating in consultation and representation. I want to be satisfied that the proposed Code enables this to happen. I want to see the industry having an effective voice on these very important issues, thus leading to standards that better meet the needs of rail users and funders."

Copies of the "Railway Group Standards Code"consultation document and the associated Railtrack document are available free of charge from Sue MacSwan, ORR Library, 1 Waterhouse Square, 138-142 Holborn, London EC1N 2ST (Tel: 0171 282 2001; Fax: 0171 282 2045; or e-mail

Railhub Archive ::: 1998-01-14 ORR-001


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