Roles of key industry bodies

Office of Rail and Road* (ORR) Railway industry duty holders
  • enforces compliance with Health and Safety at Work Act and subordinate regulations for Britain's railways by:
    • setting railway-specific policy;
    • producing guidance;
    • inspection, audit and investigation or risk controls;
    • driving improvement through advice and formal enforcement; and
    • ensuring research is carried out.
  • ensures duty holders comply with processes which deliver system safety for the mainline railway; and
  • acts as Britain's National Safety Authority in Europe.
  • duty to eliminate risk by:
    • conducting risk assessments;
    • implementing control measures within a Safety Management System (SMS) through setting safe systems of work, instruction, training, supervision, monitoring and review of the effectiveness of their controls; and
    • co-operating with other operators and parties.
  • licence condition requires railway group members (but only on the mainline) to join RSSB. Others, such as suppliers, can join voluntarily.
Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB) Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB)
  • scope is the mainline railway;
  • manages railway group standards for interfaces (operational/performance benefits as well as safety);
  • supports the industry in securing health and safety by:
    • data gathering, analysis and risk modelling;
    • running the industry research, development and innovation programme;
    • encouraging and facilitating cooperation; and
    • providing technical expertise.
  • independent investigation body for railway accidents/incidents;
  • has no enforcement powers;
  • produces reports with recommendations about preventing a reoccurrence;
  • can produce urgent safety advice; and
  • does not apportion blame or liability.

*ORR changed its name on 1 April 2015, but this will not formally take effect until later in 2015.

Rail Accident Investigation Branch

We continued to build our good working relationship with the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) at all levels during 2014-15. RAIB's investigation managers regularly presented preliminary findings of their investigations to our inspectors as part of RAIB's consultation process.

We met RAIB and Network Rail together periodically over the year to exchange information on current issues as well as our regular high-level meetings with RAIB's senior executives. Our role is to influence and monitor actions, to consider and implement RAIB's recommendations and report action being taken to address each recommendation to RAIB within 12 months it being published.

In 2014-15, we received 22 RAIB reports containing 82 recommendations and reported to RAIB on 158 recommendations: 44 implemented (all actions were complete and the recommendation addressed fully); 61 implementation ongoing (an appropriate action plan with completion dates was received from the end-implementer); 52 in progress (discussions are on-going with the end-implementer to agree actions to address the recommendations) when further information is available; zero non-implementation (valid reasons have been accepted by us as to why the recommendations should not be subject to implementation) recommendations; and one 'another public body' recommendation.  

We reorganised our recommendations handling team on 1 April 2015 and agreed work to progress or reduce the number of outstanding older recommendations by March 2016. As part of this process, we held a series of workshops with Network Rail to identify:

  • groupings of older recommendations that may be progressed or closed out due to new Network Rail's health and safety initiatives; and
  • any areas of concern that can be addressed through closer working and/or changes in process. 

At the end of 2014-15, we had:

  • 75 recommendations less than 12 months old; and
  • 142 recommendations where we had previously reported to RAIB that actions were in hand or incomplete information had been provided by recommendation 'end-implementers'. We will continue to work with 'end-implementers' to address this. We expect to update RAIB on these recommendations within the timescales advised. There are 43 recommendations reported as 'in progress' and 21 where implementation is still ongoing that are over two years old and 21 where implementation is still ongoing. We will continue to work with the industry to address these remaining recommendations.

Our relationship with RSSB

We participated as an observer at RSSB's board, which annually reviews mainline railway safety risks to passengers, the workforce and public. RSSB's board annually reviews and reports on the completeness of the data it collects.

We participated in a number of RSSB-facilitated groups focused on collaboratively managing risk effectively within the industry. They oversee, or make decisions about, the mainline industry's standards and research.

We use RSSB's safety risk and precursor indicator models, and their other periodic safety reports to help inform our view of the mainline industry's safety performance, including providing data for mandatory European reporting requirements.

Key documents RSSB published over 2014-15 included: