Taking Safe Decisions - Safety-Related CBA

Cost-benefit analysis (CBA) weighs the expected costs of one or more options against the expected benefits to support a decision as to which option(s) should be implemented. It can be used by railway companies to assist in taking safety-related decisions.

Guidance on the use of cost-benefit analysis when determining whether a measure is necessary to reduce risk so far as is reasonably practicable describes how CBA can be used to inform a decision. Further information on the wider decision-taking process can be found in Taking Safe Decisions, which sets out the industry consensus view of how safety is taken into account when taking decisions.

CBA might be used within an application of the Common Safety Method on Risk Evaluation and Assessment (CSM RA). Further information about the CSM RA is available from the Management of Change page.

In the GB rail industry, Safety benefits are incorporated into a CBA by multiplying the expected risk reduction associated with a measure by the value of preventing a fatality (VPF).

Value of preventing a fatality

An estimate of the value of preventing a fatality (VPF), which can be used for the valuation of safety benefits and disbenefits in decision taking processes, has been made for June 2019. The most recent Department for Transport (DfT) VPF (published in September 2019) is £1,958,303, which is in 2018 prices. For RSSB members who wish to use a more up-to-date forecast this figure has been up-rated to June 2019 prices using the latest available data from the Office for National Statistics and following the DfT up-rating method . As such, the VPF figure for 2019 has been estimated by RSSB to be:

VPF2019 = £2,017,000 

Whilst the RSSB figure is considered to be a more up-to-date estimate of the VPF, it is based on provisional estimates of economic performance and is therefore subject to some uncertainty that should be kept in mind when evaluating any options.

Guidance on how to incorporate the VPF into industry decision making processes can be found in the Guidance on the use of cost-benefit analysis when determining whether a measure is necessary to reduce risk so far as is reasonably practicable document, which RSSB published in 2014.

For reference purposes, the historical RSSB published VPF estimates since June 2015 are also available (see Resources section below).


We would be grateful for your feedback. If you would like to provide comments or suggestions please create a case using the RSSB Customer Self-Service Portal , using the category Risk and safety data, tools and models.

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