Annual health and safety report 2016

This is a report by the health and safety railway regulator on health and safety performance on all of Britain’s railways in 2015-16, covering the mainline railway, Transport for London (including London Underground), and Britain’s tramways.

Read our Annual health and safety report of performance on Britain’s railways: 2015-16 pdf icon PDF, 1,335 Kb
Summary pdf icon PDF, 555 Kb

Britain’s railways are currently the safest they have ever been, but there is still room for improvement. We saw a broadly consistent level of safety performance in 2015-16, building on the results of the last few years. For the first year ever, there were no workforce fatalities.

There was evidence of top-level safety improvements, particularly around reductions in harm at level crossings and among the workforce, but also a few slightly worsening trends, including high levels of earthwork failures and an increase in harm to passengers at stations.

The progress of the last decade has been built on a shared commitment by industry leaders, managers, workers, trade unions, government and ourselves to improve risk management. This year saw the publication of a unified mainline railway health and safety strategy , a key milestone which we endorsed fully. It identifies improvements to the maturity of the industry’s collective risk management including important health issues, such as worker health and wellbeing.

Underpinning this shared commitment to improve risk management is a tried and tested regulatory framework which allows us to:

  • ensure industry duty holders identify, predict and prevent risks so far as is reasonably practicable; and
  • take proportionate and targeted action to protect workers, passengers and the public, if safety falls below required standards.

Our enforcement activities serve as a reminder that inconsistencies in health and safety standards mean that we are still required to step in to ensure compliance with the law or to deal with an immediate risk. The serious incident at Wotton Basset junction involving a train operated by West Coast Railways Company passing a red signal and which led to a swift and wide ranging response by our inspectors, is one such example.

We now need to see further evidence of industry improvement. The industry’s safety leadership has strengthened and broadened, but now must ensure that initiatives to control risk are cascaded consistently and implemented on the front line as well as providing additional focus on improving occupational health management.

Building on the industry’s successes in recent years in relation to health and safety also requires continuous energy and commitment. We are ready and resourced to play our part.

Watch Johnny Schute of ORR talk about ORR's safety responsibilities.

Previous health and safety reports

Keeping Britain's railways safe