Podcast highlights: Season 2, Episode 5

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In this episode, we’re joined by Dougie Hill, Chair of the National Freight Safety Group. He speaks about freight in 2024 and the strategies in place to achieve the ambitious growth target of 75% by 2050.

Dougie starts by highlighting the freight sector’s agility in the face of challenges like rail reform, ETCS rollout, climate change, and decarbonisation. This agility will prove crucial in supporting the modal shift from road to rail, which is going to be essential for meeting the growth target.

In a nutshell, attracting freight businesses away from road transport will be key. To drive this, Dougie outlines the need for: 

  • a supportive network
  • investment in infrastructure
  • improved train pathing
  • a commitment to decarbonisation.

Of course, any growth that results from these efforts must also be safe. Including freight in our Annual Business Plan shows our commitment to this mission. Along the way, we’ll provide expertise and data analysis to support the sector’s priority risks.

Specifically, Dougie notes, the Freight Safe Insights Project aims to build a data ecosystem for safety insights. And the Horizon Scanning service will help identify emerging risks. Research programmes supported by our £2.5m freight research pipeline are also in place to support longer, heavier, and faster freight trains.

The journey to achieving the 75% rail freight growth target will be a collaborative one. It will have strong safety, innovation, and sustainability principles at its core.

Key takeaways:

  • Rates of mental health and musculoskeletal conditions among rail employees are significantly higher than the national average.
  • The Railway Mental Health Charter is aimed at addressing these and similar health concerns. So is the Rail Wellbeing Alliance’s recent restructuring.
  • Tracy emphasises the importance of industry data in taking targeted actions. This includes insights from the RSSB Health Data Hub project and the RSSB mental health survey.
  • The Fatigue Working Group is working on practical training and guidance to manage fatigue risks. That includes reviewing rosters and embedding fatigue awareness.
  • The OHAG focuses on early intervention for work-related health risks. It’s developing industry risk matrix profiles and a digital risk assessment tool.
  • The group is also reviewing medical standards to keep people productive in work. The focus on is conditions like diabetes and sleep apnoea.
  • Tracy highlights the need for industry-wide engagement and collaboration. That will help improve health standards to the same level as safety standards.
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