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Railhub Archive
2000-02-24 DET-001
Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions


Prescott welcomes Southall report

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Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions

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Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions

Prescott welcomes Southall report

24 February 2000
source Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions
type Press release

Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott today welcomed the publication by the Health & Safety Commission of the very thorough report by Professor Uff into the causes of the Southall rail accident. Many of the issues raised by the report have been addressed by steps taken since Southall, including measures announced by the Deputy Prime Minister on Tuesday.

Mr Prescott said:

"Today our thoughts are for the victims of this dreadful crash and for the families of the bereaved. This report will reawaken terrible memories, as indeed it will for those affected by other rail accidents including the Paddington tragedy last October.

"The Health and Safety Commission have accepted all the recommendations. They have my full support in ensuring that the industry implement them as rapidly as possible.

"I announced measures on Tuesday which build on steps I have already taken and address the sort of problems highlighted by Professor Uff. The Health and Safety Executive will be directly responsible for deciding whether train companies can operate safely. Every operator will be audited at least once a year. Operating standards will be set by a new company freed from any commercial pressures.

"I look to the Rail Regulator to ensure that the new company is set up quickly and that it has a truly independent Chair and Board. I expect Great Western Trains to be amongst the first of the train operators to be subjected to the new regime of annual audits.

"Many matters will be considered further by Lord Cullen's public inquiry which has the wider remit to look across the board at the regulation, management and culture of rail safety. Joint public hearings by Lord Cullen and Professor Uff later this year will consider train protection systems.

"Full automatic train protection is now operational on Great Western Trains on this line. The Health and Safety Executive have ordered that no Great Western Train will run if ATP is not working properly.

"As I said on Tuesday, the enhanced version of Train Protection And Warning System (TPWS Plus) recommended by Sir David Davies will prevent further accidents like Southall."

Notes for editors

Background Note - Actions Taken by Government to Improve Rail Safety

Sir David Davies' report on Train Protection Systems

"This report concludes that the best solution (irrespective of cost) is to fit the Train Protection and Warning System" [Executive Summary]

"This is in effect confirmation of the current plan of the industry as defined in the 1999 Railway Safety Regulations" [Executive Summary]

"…it would take nearly 10 years for the full [Automatic Train Protection] system to achieve the same level of safety as TPWS would achieve in four years. This is based upon optimistic figures for fitting ATP". [para 4.3.6]

The Report of the Public Inquiry into the Southall accident chaired by Professor Uff was published this morning by the Health and Safety Commission, who are in charge of taking forward the recommendations.

Measures taken by the Government and the HSC/E (who are the sole railway safety regulator) since the Southall crash include:

Regulations in August 1999 requiring:

the fitment of train protection on all trains and at key junctions by the end of 2003,
the abolition of all Mk1 (ie slam door rolling-stock which does not meet the crash-resistance standards of modern rolling-stock) by the end of 2002 (stock with safety modifications can remain in service till the end of 2004), and
the abolition of all trains without central locking doors by the end of 2004.

Enforcement action by the Rail Regulator and HSE against Railtrack to reduce the number of broken rails. HSE's 22-point action plan in September 1999 to reduce signals passed at danger (SPADs), on which all train operators have now acted. The

immediate establishment of public inquiries after the Southall and Paddington crashes.

Rail safety summits called by the Deputy Prime Minister following the Paddington crash produced industry commitments to safety improvements which could be made pending the reports of the two public inquires:-

a nation-wide standard for core driver training by March 2000;
the independent and confidential incident reporting system (CIRAS) to be extended from Scotland to the rest of Great Britain by the end of 2000;
Railtrack to bring forward by one year the installation of TPWS to the end of 2002;
train operators to fit TPWS to 33% of trains by the end of 2001, 75% by the end of 2002, and all trains by the end of 2003;
the priority development and introduction of European standard automatic train protection for high speed trains;
a common standard for reporting and investigating SPADs (in force since 4 December 1999);
a new national safety plan to improve safety management and ensure best practice across the network - first stage published in January.

Review of the industry-wide functions Railtrack Safety & Standards Directorate by DETR-led working group. Its recommendations for action pending the Paddington Public Inquiry will:

transfer from Railtrack to HSE responsibility for deciding whether train companies are safe to operate,
transform the Directorate into an independent company which can give safety leadership to the whole industry and take a more dynamic approach to setting and updating standards, and
establish a more effective regime for safety audit, incident investigation and ensuring that corrective action from audit and investigation is taken.

Two HSE reviews of the management of safety in Railtrack (the Eves report and the Tansley report) which will lead to fresh and more efficient safety management and standard setting processes both in Railtrack's operation of the network and the new independent Railway Safety Company.

Sir David Davies' report on automatic train protection systems, commissioned by the Deputy Prime Minister after the Paddington crash recommends going ahead with the accelerated installation of TPWS, with an enhanced version (TPWS Plus) to deal with speeds up to 100 mph at key signals, with ATP on high speed lines as they are upgraded and adopting as soon as possible a strategy to install European standard ATP in the longer term.

The Strategic Rail Authority has been established (in shadow form pending approval of the Transport Bill now before Parliament) to give strategic leadership, and inter alia promote industry research and development.

The SRA has set up a process to streamline procedures for authorising new rail vehicles to use the network.

The DETR Transport Safety Review will shortly make recommendations covering the whole machinery for transport safety regulation and investigation.

The Government is urgently considering new legislation to rectify the shortcomings in current law on corporate manslaughter.

The Lord Chancellor is leading a review of the relationship between prosecutions, investigations and enquiries.


Press enquiries: 020 7944 4671
Out of hours: 020 7944 5925 or 5945
Public Enquiries Unit: 020 7944 3000
E-mail: press@dtlr.gov.uk
Web site: http://www.dtlr.gov.uk/

Railhub Archive ::: 2000-02-24 DET-001


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