Pre-Covid, over 1.8 billion journeys were being made by train every year and, as a passenger, rail is still one of the safest ways to travel. However operational incidents still occur regularly, and it is important that we manage these. Many of these risk areas either involved multiple parties—drivers and signallers—or they recur across member companies.  So, collaboration is key to efficiently improving industry performance.

What challenges are we collaborating on?

Within LHSBR, the topic of 'Train operations' covers a wide range of risk areas and these are managed within the scope of TARG (Train Accident Risk Group). While the strategic challenges within the LHSBR cover many areas of train accident risk, there are some areas which fall outside of these, but still within the scope of TARG (such as derailments). The work associated with the challenges and risks are managed through TARG’s delivery plan agreed by the group. The strategic challenges are summarised below and more detail can be found in LHSBR.

Challenge 1: There is inconsistency across the industry in how SPAD risk is managed: 

This challenge will be met by an effective SPAD strategy being developed, embedded and used within the industry to better understand the root causes of SPADs and to manage and reduce the risk.

Challenge 2: The industry doesn’t fully understand the context in which signals are approached at danger and where the likelihood of a SPAD is greatest. 

This challenge will be met by the industry consistently using the Red Aspects Approaches To Signals (RAATS) Toolkit and the Red Aspects Approaches by Train Service (RABYTS) information to normalise SPAD data and better understand which signals are most at risk from a SPAD. This will improve SPAD management, enable more targeted intervention measures, and may also improve operational performance.

Challenge 3: Currently the industry doesn’t have a detailed migration strategy for how existing and novel train protection solutions should be implemented over the next 50 years.

This will be met by industry agreeing a train protection strategy with a clear implementation path to fitting ETCS where applicable, and alternative solutions where this is not possible.

Challenge 4: The risk from over-speeding and the effectiveness of controls and mitigations are not fully understood.

This will be achieved through the production of an industry-wide strategy to improve the management of trains over-speeding.

Challenge 5: Safety critical communications continue to be a significant factor in incidents.

This will be achieved through the launch and embedding of this safety critical communications strategy, and other supporting initiatives will help improve the standard of communications across the industry.

Challenge 6: There is inconsistent collaboration in managing train accident risk at the route and regional levels.

This will be achieved through the use and monitoring of collaboration, and implementation of the requirements published in RIS-3704-TOM.

There are a number of other areas of managing train accident risk where TARG also carries out work, for example (but not limited to) stop shorts, station over-runs, derailment, permissive working irregularities. The full scope of TARG’s work and its risk profile can be found in its remit.

How to get involved

There are many opportunities for you to contribute to improving train operations as part of leading health and safety on Britain’s railways. Industry is encouraged to join, or work with:

  • Train Accident Risk Group (TARG): Has developed and is responsible for the industry delivery plan to improve the management of train accident risk. TARG also sponsors topic-specific ‘task and finish’ groups to collaborate around risk areas within its remit, and to support the delivery of the strategic challenges listed above.
  • SPAD Risk Subgroup (SPAD RSG): this group works with TARG and their OPSRAMs and TOSGs to monitor SPAD performance and the implementation of industry initiatives.
  • Heritage Trains Risk Group (HTRG): this is a niche group, comprised of heritage sector operators, to manage train accident, as well as station operations and workforce risk management.
  • Train Protection Strategy Group (TPSG): this group reports through the Vehicle/Train Command & Control System Interface Committee around management and development of train protection systems strategy.
  • Train Over-Speed Task and Finish Group and other LHSBR topic Task and Finish Groups are being established (summer 2020).  For more information contact Philippa Murphy at RSSB.
  • Rail Delivery Group Passenger Operations Safety Group (POSG): this group aims to brings all TOCs together to improve safety across the industry. This includes train operations.


RSSB offers Human Factors Awareness Training to help operators better understand why people make mistakes, exploring factors that can influence train driver performance such as decision making, fatigue, distraction and verbal communications.

RSSB offers Non-Technical Skills (NTS) Awareness and Integration Training to help operators improve the performance and safety of train drivers by improving the use of NTS.

RSSB offers training in their Risk-Based Training Needs Analysis toolkit. The tool and training helps operators determine a) tasks and competencies train drivers require to deliver safe performance b) training and assessment priorities for drivers c) review and identify different and maybe more effective ways of train and assess train drivers.

RSSB offers a fair culture workshop to help you better understand fair culture and plan how your organisation can foster a fairer culture to improve the performance and safety of train operations. Email: for more information.

RSSB offers Training to upskill and certify railway assessment centre staff in train driver selection methods.

RSSB also offers Non-Technical Skills (NTS) Refresher Training to refresh operators knowledge in how to improve the performance and safety of train drivers by improving the use NTS.