Route compatibility standard

Our work to revise the route compatibility assessment standard has made the process of introducing change to the railway easier to navigate, enabling impacted parties to work more efficiently and effectively.

The standards RSSB manages and publishes are critical to efficient, effective and safe operation of the whole railway system, especially when it relies on different parties working together constructively to address an issue which crosses engineering and organisational boundaries.

One example of this is the industry’s route compatibility assessment standard. The standard relates to the introduction of new or modified vehicles or infrastructure where there is a potential impact on the asset of another party. The standard sets out the requirements for what needs to be assessed in these situations, and how. With the changes in legislation and greater clarity of legal responsibilities and obligations, it was essential to review the old standard and re-draft it to provide legal clarity.

Working closely with and coordinating a cross-industry subgroup, as well as our Standards Committees, we were able to achieve industry-wide agreement on the key principles for route compatibility as well as clarifying the legal basis for continued use of and compliance with the standard by the industry. The much-improved new standard (RIS-8270-RST), published in June 2018, now:

  • Brings together the previously disparate legislative obligations for all parties and clearly highlights what each party needs to do
  • Provides more detail on what needs to be assessed and checked for compatibility at route level
  • Clarifies the role of the route compatibility assessment against all the other activities that need to take place as part of meeting the wider legal requirements.

The industry engagement that we facilitated also increased awareness of legal obligations for route compatibility and improved understanding of all parties on what is required. For more details, see the Briefing Note and the Impact Assessment related to this change to the standard.

While the review also came to the conclusion that the standard cannot be a Railway Group Standard, we agreed measures with the industry to ensure the revised version continues to be used by all to meet legal obligations. These include codification of the standard in ORR’s Duty of Cooperation guidance and in Network Rail’s Network Statement, post-publication.

Together these changes should make the process of introducing change to the railway easier to navigate, particularly in terms of the legalities. By following the requirements in the standard and coming to a mutually agreed and understood approach, the impacted parties can avoid unnecessary analysis, conflict, confusion and re-work, especially if a complex change is being introduced.

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Vaibhav Puri
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