Reducing the Risk of Derailments with Improved Standards

There are now additional assessments to prove that rail vehicles for use on Britain’s railways are sufficiently resistant to derailment.

Rail travel is very safe, and trains very rarely derail.

Seven train derailments occurred in 2017-18, two involving passenger trains, two with empty coaching stock, and three involving freight trains.  These in the context of 215,826 freight train movements and 1.71 billion passenger journeys made in that financial year.

There have been no passenger or workforce fatalities from train accidents for over 12 years, since Grayrigg in 2007. But while there were no major injuries to the workforce or passengers from the derailments that occurred in 2017-8, they still have the potential for tragic consequences.

Even derailments without injury are problematic, since they cause considerable delay and disruption to other rail services while the immediate investigation and restoration of order takes place. 

While the long-term trend has been for the number of derailments to fall year by year, the freight sector in particular has been keen to reduce the risk even further. 

Between 2007 and 2013 there were five derailments on Britain's railways involving container freight trains, due to combinations of track twist, wagon fault and asymmetric or offset loading.  The Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) recommended, after the Camden Road and Gloucester derailments in October 2013, that RSSB should add assessments for a vehicle's resistance to offset loading and to cyclic top track features within the Railway Group Standard (RGS).

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