Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions
New rail regulations mean tougher safety checks - Prescott
keywords: click to search
Phrases in [single square brackets] are hyperlinks in the original document
Phrases in [[double square brackets]] are editorial additions or corrections
Phrases in [[[triple square brackets]]] indicate embedded images or graphics in the original document. (These are not usually archived unless they contain significant additional information.)
New rail regulations mean tougher safety checks - Prescott
type Press release
note News Release 614
Tougher safety checks on the railways came a step closer today after Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott laid new regulations before Parliament.
New Railway Safety Regulations will switch approval for train operators' safety cases from Railtrack to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), and they will improve the content of safety cases, including Railtrack's. The safety case sets out the rules under which each train company is allowed to operate.
Mr Prescott said:
"These regulations should be seen as yet another step towards improving railway safety and ensuring that safety is the highest priority. The measures announced today will not pre-empt Lord Cullen and we are prepared to go further if that is what he recommends."
"I have gone as far as I can within existing legislation, and have met the commitments I made following the Paddington rail crash. Lord Cullen's Public Inquiry into that tragedy will be far reaching and will look thoroughly at safety management and safety culture."
"We have taken a large number of measures to improve rail safety since coming into office; and we are acting on all 93 recommendations resulting from the Public Inquiry into the Southall train crash."
The Regulations will come into force on 31 December 2000, when a new rail safety company, Railway Safety, freed from commercial conflicts, is due to be set up within Railtrack to replace the company's Safety & Standards Directorate (SSD).
Separately the Office of the Rail Regulator is currently drafting changes to Condition 3 of Railtrack's Network Licence to allow the establishment of Railway Safety.
Key rail safety actions since May 1997
Ministers made clear to the Health and Safety Commission (who are the sole rail safety regulator) that they should bring forward whatever measures they considered necessary to improve rail safety, in particular on train protection and old slam-door rolling-stock in January 1998.
Public Inquiry into Southall rail crash to be chaired by Professor John Uff QC, announced in September 1997.
Regulations in August 1999 requiring:
- the fitment of TPWS train protection on all trains and at key junctions by the end of 2003, and full ATP train protection where reasonably practicable;
- the removal from the network of all Mark 1 (slam door) rolling stock, which does not meet the crash-resistant standards of modern rolling stock, by the end of 2002 (Mark 1 stock which has had safety modifications can remain in service only until the end of 2004); and
- the abolition of all trains without centrally locking doors by the end of 2004.
Enforcement actions by HSE and the Rail Regulator against Railtrack to improve the condition of the track and reduce the number of broken rails.
HSE's 22 point action plan in September 1999 to reduce the number of signals passed at danger (SPADs), on which Railtrack and all train operators have now acted. Latest published figures show that since October 1999, the number of SPADs has fallen by about 25%.
Rail safety actions since Ladbroke Grove - 5 October 1999
Two rail safety summits, called by the Deputy Prime Minister following the Ladbroke Grove rail crash, resulted in industry commitments to improvements:
- a nation-wide standard for core driver training (now in place);
- 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 complete installation of TPWS by the end of 2002, a year earlier than required by the Regulations;
- Train operators to fit TPWS to 33% of all 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 the European Train Control System (ETCS) to provide automatic train protection for high speed lines;
- a common standard for reporting and investigating SPADs (in force since December 1999);
- a new national safety plan to improve safety management and ensure best practice across the network - first stage was published by Railtrack in January.
Ministers asked HSC to produce monthly reports on all SPAD incidents to be placed in the House of Commons Library and on the HSC website.
Review of the industry-wide functions of Railtrack's Safety & Standards Directorate by a DETR-led working group. Its recommendations required:
- Railtrack to separate its safety functions from its commercial interests;
- new Railway Safety Regulations to transfer responsibility for train operators' safety case acceptance from Railtrack to the HSE; and
- a separate rail safety company commercially free from Railtrack - Railway Safety - is to be established to improve railway safety management.
Two HSE reviews of the management of safety in Railtrack (the Eves and Tansley reports) 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 rail safety company - Railway Safety.
Sir David Davies' report on automatic train protection systems, commissioned by the Deputy Prime Minister after the Ladbroke Grove crash and published in February 2000, recommends going ahead with the accelerated installation of TPWS, with an enhanced version (TPWS+) to deal with speeds of up to 100 mph, with ATP on high speed lines as they are upgraded and the adoption as soon as possible of a strategy to install European standards of ATP in the longer term.
Sir David Davies' report concluded:
- "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 plans 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." (Paragraph 4.3.6).
Sir David Davies published a supplementary report in August 2000.
The report of Professor Uff's Public Inquiry into the Southall train crash was published in February. The HSC accepted all 93 of his recommendations to improve the safe operation of the railway. An action plan was published in May showing how each of his recommendations is to be taken forward.
Part 1 of Lord Cullen's public inquiry into the immediate causes of the Ladbroke Grove crash closed on 28 July.
- LORD CULLEN AND PROFESSOR UFF'S JOINT INQUIRY ON TRAIN PROTECTION SYSTEMS OPENED ON 18 SEPTEMBER.
- Part 2 of Lord Cullen's inquiry will be a thorough investigation of the regulation, management and culture of rail safety. It is expected to start in mid-October for completion by the end of the year.
The Strategic Rail Authority has been established (in shadow form pending the approval of the Transport Bill now before Parliament) to give strategic leadership and, amongst other things, to promote industry research and development.
- The Shadow Strategic Rail Authority has set up a process to streamline procedures for authorising new rail vehicles to use the network.
Government review of safety procedures and legislation.
- DETR reviewed the arrangements for transport safety across the modes, including accident investigation. Results of consultation and review group consideration reported to Parliament, and made available as an input to the Ladbroke Grove inquiry.
- The Home Office is urgently considering new legislation to rectify the shortcomings in current law on corporate manslaughter.
Ten Year Plan published in July set out a programme for a safer, bigger and better railway, with a programme of £60bn public and private sector rail funding over the next ten years. The biggest investment in railways for generations gives priority to safety and includes funding for TPWS across the network and European standard ATP on the high speed lines. The Government are committed to bring within the plan any further measure arising from Lord Cullen's Inquiry and the joint inquiry on train protection.
Media enquiries 020 7944 3108; Out of hours: 020 7944 5925 or 5945
Public Enquiries Unit 020 7944 3000
Web site http://www.dtlr.gov.uk/
Railhub Archive ::: 2000-10-02 DET-001