Ten years have passed since the last train accident killed passengers or rail staff on Britain’s mainline railways, which is unprecedented in their history, according to rail industry body RSSB.
The accident at Grayrigg 10 years ago on 23 February 2007 was the last time a passenger died in a train accident scenario such as a derailment or collision. In comparison, five people die on Britain’s roads every day.
Detailed analysis by RSSB shows that rail passengers genuinely are safer, with train accident fatality risk falling 87% since the year 2000, as both accidents and their causes, such as trains passing red signals, are at an all-time low.
RSSB has also looked at incidents which have most potential to turn into more serious accidents including trains striking objects and derailments, and these too are falling, with just 17 incidents in 2016 compared to 45 in 2007.
Lives were also saved 10 years ago at Grayrigg thanks to the train’s crashworthiness and the use of laminated glass in the windows. Research shows these prevent people from being ejected from the train.
RSSB’s Director of System Safety, George Bearfield said:
This unprecedented 10-year respite does not, of course, mean that train accidents are consigned to history. It’s still possible for accidents involving trains, or vehicles like trains, to happen, as shown elsewhere. We have seen major accidents overseas in recent months, and also the major tram incident in Croydon in November last year. The railways’ safety performance is maintained through continual learning and industry is ready to learn any relevant transferable lessons for the mainline railway in Britain.
By remaining vigilant and avoiding complacency, the railways have maintained a methodical and targeted approach to managing risk and improving safety. Stronger trains, better signalling and protection, and day-to-day dedication of rail staff have all played their part too.
Train accidents have a tragic impact on passengers, rail staff, and their families – the derailment at Grayrigg resulted in tragedy for the family of Margaret Masson who died. It also required heroism from rail staff, emergency services and the local community in the aftermath. Our thoughts are with them as much as they are with the progress we’ve made as an industry in the intervening period.