Originally established as a safety research programme in 2001, the programme has evolved to underpin RSSB’s critical role in enabling a safer and more efficient railway. The Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail, published in 2021, reinforced the remit for the programme, stating:
Why the RSSB research programme exists, and what it does
How can we optimise the operation of current assets without compromising safety or requiring capital expenditure?
The research programme provides sound evidence to inform changes that require whole system considerations beyond individual organisations’ knowledge and incentives.
How can we improve whole system performance and value for money when replacing physical and digital assets?
The research programme develops and tests incremental improvements to existing solutions that cut across organisational boundaries and which the market would not pursue.
How can we safely and efficiently drive step-changes in the railway value proposition?
The research programme supports pre-commercial development of solutions novel to rail and informs the standardisation and safety analysis needed to de-risk their deployment.
What research does the programme undertake?
- Research which requires understanding of whole-system risk.
- Research that supports ongoing standards development and improvement.
- Research which requires significant industry coordination and collaboration to undertake and implement.
- Research where there can be a conflict of interest and so requires an independent body to ‘own’ the findings for the industry to drive acceptance.
- Research where the incentives are not aligned with the costs and/or benefits are not sufficiently tangible or too uncertain for organisations to pursue in isolation.
What research is outside the scope of the programme ?
- Research which a single organisation has the incentive, responsibility and competence to undertake.
- Research intended to develop products to unlock commercial advantage for one supplier organisation.
- Market research on rail usage and customers.
- Research which lacks cross-industry support.
- Research with a weak case, such as low benefits or high implementation costs.