Covid-19 has created a dynamic situation and a range of key challenges characterised by high levels of uncertainty as the crisis evolves as a result of the interaction of rapidly changing epidemiological, social, scientific, political and economic factors.
The mitigation measures introduced since March 2020 have changed travel behaviours and expectations. Across the GB passenger and freight rail network, enhanced and new cleaning regimes, hygiene protocols and human factors techniques have been deployed in trains, stations, maintenance facilities and depots. These responses are directed towards the mitigation of potential adverse health impacts on passengers and staff, that is, to promote the highest levels of biosafety.
The biosafety approach is historically associated with the protection measures used by laboratories working with infectious agents or biohazards. From this, we have adopted the following definition of biosafety for GB rail:
“The application of knowledge, techniques, processes, equipment and data to prevent rail passenger, staff and environmental exposure to potentially infectious agents or biohazards to enhance immediate collective safety, promote ongoing public confidence and sector preparedness and develop longer term resilience to future public health emergencies.”
RSSB’s Rail Biosafety Horizon Scanning (RBHS) programme has been set-up to both support the cross-industry Technical Leadership Group Covid-19 Working Group and provide horizon scanning and emerging issues analysis on the topics of scientific research, transmission prevention, public confidence and key external drivers.