Annual health and safety report

The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) report on health and safety performance on Britain’s railways in 2017-18 covering the mainline railway, Transport for London (including London Underground), and Britain’s light railways.

Annual health and safety report of performance on Britain’s railways: 2017-18
Published 17 July 2018


In the original publication of the ORR's Annual Health & Safety Report on 17 July, there were some discrepancies within the data presented. These occurred because the ORR report was created based on initial datasets provided by RSSB before 6 July 2018. Between ORR receiving these datasets and the publication date, RSSB refreshed their data following their internal quality assurance process. Whilst these changes were reflected in RSSB's report, published on 17 July, they were received too late for the ORR report.

The data series' affected are:

  • Passenger harm (FWI)
  • Public harm (FWI)
  • Level crossing harm (FWI)
  • Potentially Higher Risk Train Accidents (PHRTAs)

We have since updated the relevant sections of the web based report and captured these changes within an Errata and relevant footnotes. Further details can be found within the Errata on page 73 of the report.

Britain’s railways remain among the safest in Europe, delivering this day in and day out requires constant vigilance and the ongoing commitment of all those who work in the industry.

In particular, the year began with two significant trespass incidents at freight depots, both of which involved children. Tragically  in the case of the Daventry International Rail Freight Depot, a child lost his life.

The industry suffered two workforce fatalities during 2017-18, of which one was related to railway operations and the other to natural causes.

Mainline passenger harm rose s lightly when compared to last year. There were four passenger fatalities in 2017-18, one less than the previous year.

The three main areas of focus for ORR and the industry in the coming years are:

  1. Supporting our People: Very often people are the last line of defence preventing a major failure. They perform safetycritical tasks with great professionalism and the fact that our railway is as safe as it has ever been is largely due to their dedication and professionalism. However, the modern world and changing pressures on passengers and the system as a whole, mean we need to focus on ensuring we support them through a strong culture of occupational healthcare, particularly mental health, as well as fatigue and competency management.
  2. Pressure on the System: There are many pressures on the overall system, which we need to ensure are managed and risk controlled. There is a lot of change with plenty of new equipment being introduced now and over the next three years. Train frequencies have increased recently across large parts of the network and are set to increase further and our structures, earthworks and drainage assets are still primarily Victorian. There remain financial constraints and strains across parts of the system which, with an ever moving external environment, and a decline in performance, add to the pressures.
  3. Technology: Technological developments offer great opportunities to improve safety, performance and value for money. In safety terms, they have the ability to create the extra barrier in the ‘Swiss Cheese’ model and so increase our defences. However, it is vital that we take human interaction into account and effectively manage the changes that support its introduction, for example, in working practices. This brings stress to people’s lives and it is important to ensure the human interface is properly aligned with technology, ensuring jobs, processes and equipment
    are designed with people in mind. We also recognise this as a key competence for us a regulator in years to come.

We have completed our review of all of our Strategic Risk Chapters. They are now published  and current and allow us as a regulator, and as a sector, to focus attention and resource. We are now working on a process for a risk-based review of the Chapters, drawing on the wealth of available data, to maintain their suitability in future.

Keeping Britain's railways safe